The ongoing battle as to whether the Government is right to pass an exemption to the single-use carrier bag levy continues, with the Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association (OPA) today accusing the British Plastics Federation (BPF) and others of “scaremongering”.
The BPF, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) and Plastics 2020 raised concerns recently that granting an exemption from the bag tax, due to take effect in England in October this year, would encourage littering and jeopardise the plastics recycling system.
“Such a move would not only be contrary to the recommendations of the Government’s own Environmental Audit Committee but is also opposed by virtually all organisations in the plastics sector, including material suppliers, packaging manufacturers and plastics recyclers,” explained British Plastics Federation Recycling Group Chairman, Roger Baynham.
“Over the last three years, the UK has seen the emergence of significant infrastructure to support plastics recycling. This is at a critical stage where it is necessary for these investments to demonstrate profitable growth and to meet the needs of higher overall recycling targets. This policy exemption could undermine these businesses due to the potential for contamination.”
Philip Law, Director General of the BPF, speaking on behalf of the wider industry grouping, Plastics2020, added: "The proposed exemption would be discriminatory and would only serve to distort the market and promote littering.”
The OPA has retorted, claiming that scientific evidence has been produced to DEFRA that oxo-biodegradable plastic can be recycled without the need for segregation. “The recyclers have produced only scare stories with no scientific basis,” it said.
The association says that oxo-biodegradable bags are the only type of plastic carrier bag that will biodegrade in the open environment if littered, but can also be recycled. It also claims that DEFRA has found no evidence that biodegradability encourages littering, stating that “there will always be people who dispose irresponsibly of their waste, and that type of person does not care whether it is biodegradable or not.”