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Politics Geography EU / EC proposal Bulgaria Bagislation (enforced) Most likely (2017 or later) Yes (Oct. 2012) Type Scope / Criteria Exemption Level / Cost MBI & Bans – up to MS Tax SUPCB / < 50 µm SUPCB / < 15 µm? Or all plastic bags? (late news) EC: none (up to MS) EP: Biodegradable Plastics Biodegradables acc. EN 13432 (up to MS) “Progressive tax - appr. 28 Cents / bag 2014” Denmark Yes (2001) Tax all bags > 5 l (plastic & paper) none 22 DKK = appr. 3 € / kg France Germany Ireland Italy Netherlands Romania Spain UK: England N-Ireland Scotland Wales Most likely (Jan. 2016) No Yes (2007) Yes (01-2011) No Yes (01-2009) No (suspended 2014) Yes (Autumn 2015) Yes (04-2013) Yes (proposal, 10-2014) Yes (10-2011) “Ban (before:Tax)” Charge / Levy Ban not yet defined (decree) SUPCB / < xx µm (?) all plastic bags; various criteria most plastic CB - complex: size, thickness, type, applic., ... Tax n. n. Charge (Levy) Charge (Levy) Charge (Levy) Charge (Levy) until 2014: progressive subsitution targets SUPCB to be further defined SU bags incl. paper & plastic & plantbased materials all SU bags (all materials) SU bags incl. paper & plastic & plantbased, complex: < 49 µm, size < 40x44 cm, a. o. Biodegradables (EN 13432) > 40% biobased content for specific applications; not for biodegradables Biodegradables acc EN 13432 unclear - probably for EN 13432 biodegradables until 2014: Biodegradables acc. EN 13432 DEFRA proposes: Biodegradables be exempt several applications (not bioplastics) complex, small businesses & several appl. exempt (not biopl.) for several applications (not for bioplastics) “Ban (until 03-2014: tax 6 Cents / bag)” 10–20 Cents pricing is very common 22 Cents / bag “ban of non-biodegradable; biodegradable bags for free or sold” 0,2 Lei / bag (25 Cents) 5 Pence / bag 5 Pence / bag 5 Pence / bag 5 Pence / bag Abbreviations: MS = Member State(s); SUPCB = Single-Use Plastic Carrier Bags; MBI = Market-based Instruments, MBT = Mechanical Biological Treatment (mixed waste composting), Ct=Euro-Cent A more comprehensive versio of this ‘mapping’ can be downloaded from Tab 2.: Mapping Bagislation in Europe (selection) Whilst the EU framework legislation is still pending and predictions on a final version are hard to make for now, it is clear that EU/MS legislation will vary significantly. When mapping out national laws addressing carrier bags the current picture resembles a puzzle showing variations regarding the scope (which bags are addressed) the criteria (definitions what is in and out) and applied measures. Table 2 lists the main aspects of Bagislation in some selected EU/MS. On one extreme, Italy has banned plastic bags up to 100 µm and exempted biodegradable EN 13432 conforming bags. Because of assumed discrimination and violation of §18 an EC Fig. 4: How to avoid damage from littering? infringement was run against Italy – but put on hold with regard to the running PPWD revision procedure. The UK members Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland imposed pricing measures on all types of carrier bags, with no exemptions for biodegradables. England’s proposed measures foresee privileging biodegradable bags – if they can find the perfect bag which biodegrades quickly in home compost, and anaerobically in digestion plants. France recently changed its earlier proposal to tax all plastic bags by at least 6 Cents, switching to a ban of non-biodegradable single-use plastics bags, starting in 2016. Like France, England has not yet laid down more specific criteria. Countries like France, Spain or Romania proposed exemptions for biodegradable plastic bags but none of them so far have enforced any legislation. None of them has a fully established organic waste collection and industrial composting infrastructure. For at least a significant part of the population this question arises: Where to put biodegradable plastic bags after use, and, would this affect conventional plastic recycling? Another extreme is a country like Germany where organic recycling schemes are well established but industrial composters are against compostable carrier bags. The German biowaste legislation is allowing the composting of only specific nonpackaging items like biowaste collection bags. In Germany only reusable plastic bags were sold at most supermarkets and PE film recycling is increasing. 46 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/14] Vol. 9

Politics Fig. 5: Disposable plastic products stand for waste and littering (Photo: Kaeb) The difference between a carrier bag and a biowaste bag is very simple: Consumers get and buy biowaste bags intentionally for the purpose of composting. Buying a compostable shopping bag is not linked to that intention. The added value and second life of a compostable shopping bag is a main argument, but it would need that composting infrastructure to be available and accessible at regional / MS level. Although European waste legislation has set targets for separate collection and treatment of biowaste, practice shows that many countries and regions are lagging quite far behind (see Fig 2). The same is true for the intended but very slow phasing out of landfill of untreated waste. Implementation and control of legislation is much more challenging than putting targets on paper. National waste management policy and infrastructure must be the guiding principle when designing Bagislation to make it fit for purpose. The discussions and debates on the role of biodegradable and compostable plastics in the EU Bagislation have revealed many open questions. How to recycle them if organic recycling is not in place, or is in place but refuses acceptance of compostable plastic products? Several studies were made, or are ongoing. What about home compostability? What happens to biodegradable bags if littered on the land, in rivers, in sea water? Experts know the speed and extend of biodegradability is heavily dependent on various parameters of the environmental conditions (industrial composting occurs under optimum conditions). What happens to marine life if ingested, what about the risks of entanglement? Some of these questions are addressed in running standardisation processes or research projects (KBBPPS, OpenBio), some are not yet tackled at all. It would be worth reviewing these questions and actions in a detailed review article to better understand the situation and the implications. Advocates of privileges for Biodegradables had to learn that most NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in Europe wanted a complete ban or very wide reduction of all types of single-use plastic bags. Even if these NGOs acknowledge the benefits of biodegradability they prefer the switch to reusable bags. They learned that biodegradability is not synonymous with compostability and doubt it will happen fast enough to prevent wildlife from potential damages. The advocates of biodegradable single-use bags stress their advantages, e.g. to contribute to better organic waste management and less contamination of recycling streams with food waste. Positioning biodegradable bags as “a good alternative” to conventional single-use plastic bag and finding acceptance is not easy. A more general view says: If markets are destroyed or created by legislation the arguments need to be bullet-proof. Expect them to be scrutinized and put under the microscope by affected (opposing) parties. To summarize and conclude: It is good to see that biodegradable and compostable bags were recognized as beneficial for proper organic waste collection. It is at least a bit frightening to see them sometimes recognized as a contribution to solving (marine) littering problems – because of lack of knowledge and comprehensive test methods. Biobased plastic bags, i.e. reusable and recyclable products from Bio-PE or BioPET30, have not been addressed directly but would suffer from extreme national reduction targets and measures, i.e. if the scope addresses reusable bags. At EU level nothing is carved in stone yet, and implementation has to occur at national level in any case. The list of legal measures targeting the consumption of plastic carrier bags and promotion of biodegradable alternatives is revealing a scattered landscape – which also is true for the existing waste management and recycling schemes in place. Biodegradable single-use plastic bags should not fail to meet the expectations of awarded legal privileges when put under the microscope. Literature [1] EU Plastic Bags Impact Assessment waste/packaging/legis.htm#plastic_bags [2] EC Proposal [3] Procedure do?lang=en&reference=2013/0371(COD) [4] Enzo Favoino, Scuola Agraria del Parco di Monza and International Solid Waste Association ISWA, presentation 3rd Baltic Biowaste Conference, 23/24 Nov. 2011, Vilnius bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/14] Vol. 9 47

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