“Great Scott!” – Industry Association Chair Admits Oxobiodegradables “not for landfilling”

Writing in the November/December issue of bioplastics MAGAZINE, a global trade publication, Dr. Gerald Scott, long time proponent of oxo-biodegradable technologies and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association, stated that products made with oxo-bioedgradable additive technologies are not suitable to be landfilled or composted.

Let us be clear…that oxo-biodegradable plastic is not normally marketed for composting, and it is not designed for anaerobic digestion nor for degradation deep in landfill…

Rather, Dr. Scott claims that these additives are designed to lessen the impact of plastics that are littered. You can read the complete article from bipoplastics magazine here.

This is something of a retreat on the part of leaders of the ‘oxo’ industry.  Unfortunately, while Dr. Scott claims that ‘oxo-degradables’ are not marketed as compostable or biodegradable in landfills, this direction has not filtered down to the wide array of additive suppliers, who routinely make extravagant green marketing claims for products based on oxo-degradable additives.  Check out this sample: a simple Google search of the combination “oxo-biodegradable + landfilling“.

Now that the oxo-biodegradable industry leaders have begun to pinpoint where they believe that their additives have value, it is up to them to make the data available to address the following questions:

  1. How long will it take (and under what conditions) for products using these additives to fragment, which is a precursor to the possibility of any biodegradation?
  2. How long will it take for these applications to fully biodegrade (as claimed) in the environment? Available data shows that the process will take years, even under optimal conditions and high temperatures (as are found in composting).
  3. What are the environmental impacts of the “plastic fragments” that are created? Are the impacts from plastic fragments with ‘oxo-additives’ any different than those from ordinary plastic fragments that are already been documented?

We applaud Dr. Scott in providing a clearer direction to this industry. We look forward to seeing his research to answer the questions that will continue to follow this industry.

– gws-