Tesco, a global grocery and merchandise retailer in the UK, has decided to stop distributing its single-use bags with oxo-biodegradable additives based on environmental impacts and durability concerns.
Too often products are greenwashed as biodegradable and compostable when they do not meet the appropriate American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or equivalent standards. Oxo-biodegradable products often do not meet these standards and are made from petroleum or ethylene, using additives to hasten the process of degradation. However, the products are still not compostable and break down into smaller and smaller pieces which can be even more harmful to marine life when mistaken as food and ingested.
According to an article in Plastics Information Europe, Tesco pulled the bags after
"research by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra, London; www.defra.gov.uk) cast doubts over claims that bags would degrade to water, carbon dioxide and biomass within 18 months. Primarily, the research report concluded that degradability would depend on the conditions in which the bag found itself after use; if deprived of light and oxygen, for example, it would not degrade at all."
Absence of light and oxygen is found in environments such as landfills. Tesco also cited concerns about the durability of the bags with biodegradable additives.
Retailers in Europe are currently searching for ways to reduce plastic bag consumption while many countries consider plastic bag bans. The European Union has also just completed a survey asking citizens their opinion on a possible bag ban which would encompass all of the EU.
To read the full article about Tesco, click here.
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