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[greenyes] France moves to require biodegradable on plastic packaging

As indicated in the article below, agricultural interests (in the U.S. its
Dow-Cargill) are pushing "biodegradable" plastic in France through

Biodegradability has carried a certain cache in the past, but when mixed
into a stream of material slated to be recycled, some significant questions
need to be answered.

For one thing, when a package is decomposed, the resources that went into
the value added that comprised that container is lost (ergo half the
benefits of recycling). Is this loss being accounted for in the
consideration being given to it.

Also, it would seem that the widespread introduction of polyactic acid (PLA)
bottles would require an additional sort at the MRF were they separated by
households because PLA is thought to be incompatible with PET that it
visually resembles. Typically additional plastic sorts cost about 2 cents
per pound. Is that what would be involved here?

Then, when the sorted PLA is sent to a suitable compost facility, what would
be the price MRFs woud be paid for it (if any), net of additional sorting
costs, and as compared to the 10-20 cents per pound it receives for
non-biodegradable plastic? How does that net out when that economic loss is
added to the lost value added.

And, is it true that PLA only really decomposes in specified compost
facilities, and would not decompose along the road or in a landfill? That
would pretty much take away the widely perceived benefit in the mind of the
public when it hears the word "biodegradable".

Up until now recyclers had the luxury of not paying PLA much mind because it
demanded an upcharge, sharply limiting its commercial reach. Now, however,
that PLA adherents are moving to legislate introduction of the bottle to
overcome its financial baggage, we need to put this issue on our radar
screen in order to protect the interests of our industry and the

Taxpayers are subsidizing ethanol's introduction. Whether the real
life/cycle analysis justifies that subsidy is one thing. We certainly don't
want to see the same thing here based upon incomplete information.


France to ban non-degradable plastic bags
Environment Daily 1962, 14/10/05
French MPs have unanimously voted to ban non-biodegradable plastic
carrier bags by 2010, it emerged this week. Initially drafted as a
private member's bill by Yves Jego MP in February, the amendment is now
part of a framework law on farming which is expected to be passed next
week, according to a spokeswoman from the French agriculture ministry.

The amendment is expected to help French farmers find new market
opportunities as production subsidies through the EU's common
agricultural policy are progressively declining. Biodegradable plastic
bags are currently made of polymer and corn starch.

European plastic industry trade body PlasticsEurope called the
amendment a "serious step back" from government commitments to increase
recycling. It called the move "out of proportion" and unrealistic, and
accused MPs of making a "hasty decision".

PlasticsEurope and several media outlets - led by Le Monde - have
reported that the amendment covers all plastics packaging, not just
carrier bags. However, there is uncertainty over this point. Mr
Jego's original private member's bill covered only bags. A spokesman
for the MP told Environment Daily on Friday that the ban did not cover
packaging as well.

Follow-up: French parliament web pages on the framework law,
PlasticsEurope press release, Le Monde article,1-0,36-698433,0.html, and Yves Jego

Peter Anderson, President
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address

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