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Packaging: Waste Disposal

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage appropriate biodegradable packaging of products. (268777)

Switching from using oil-based plastics to genuinely biodegradable renewable polymers/bioplastics can deliver environmental benefits, providing they are appropriately handled after disposal. DEFRA works closely with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to develop policy in this area. The DECC-sponsored National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) has established a Thematic Working Group to bring together those involved in the renewable polymer supply chain, to help realise the economic and environmental benefits of renewable polymer technologies and products.

In addition, NNFCC, the DEFRA funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Association for Organics Recycling (formerly the Composting Association) have been contributing to a ‘Green Alliance’ project, under the ‘Closing the Loop’ umbrella, looking specifically at biodegradable packaging. A guidance note and web based information tool has been developed. These are on the Green Alliance website and can be viewed via:

They set out considerations to be taken into account when deciding which packaging applications are most suited to biodegradable compostable materials and highlight some of the disposal issues which need to be overcome to ensure the materials are properly disposed of at end of life.