New Plastics for a New Era?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

On 11 January 2018, the British Government committed itself to a crackdown on plastics. Its policy paper ‘A Green Future: Our 25 year Plan to Improve the Environment’ contained several measures to cut down on plastic use. These included extending the 5p plastic bag charge to small retailers, removing consumer single use plastics from the government estate, supporting the water industry to significantly increase water fountains and working with retailers on introducing plastic-free supermarket aisles. [1] At first glance the Government’s policies would seem to present a significant challenge to the plastic industry. However, the Government’s strategy may also provide an opportunity. Particularly if the plastics industry can make the case for new technologies like biodegradable plastics.

Plastic use is widespread because it meets a need, the Government’s strategy does not reduce this need. For example, as the British Plastics Federation has pointed out, without packaging food waste in stores increased by a third. [2] Without a comprehensive recycling strategy this may lead to more waste and more demand for food. Neither of which will help the Government meet its ambitions of a greener future.

The plastics industry can use the example of advances like biodegradable plastics to show how plastics can be part of a greener future. Unlike petroleum based plastics, which do not break down over time, biodegradable plastics convert into natural substances when exposed to certain environmental conditions. [3] This means that, provided they are treated properly after use, they can be used without some of the environmentally damaging effects of traditional plastics. For example, polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) decomposes in soil and waterways. Meaning that its use could bring an end to floating garbage. Moreover, manufacturing biodegradable bioplastics produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than making petroleum based plastics. [4]

This could provide an opportunity to investors in biodegradable plastics. By working with policymakers to show how their products can help meet Britain’s ambitions, biodegradable plastic investors can open up a larger market for their products.


[1] DEFRA Press Release, 11 January 2018, link

[2] British Plastics Federation Press Release, 11 January 2018, link

[3] European Bioplastics, What are bioplasticslink

[4] Time, The Promise And Pitfalls of Bioplastics, 3 May 2010, link

LATEST NEWS

Transport

What Are The Implications Of Coronavirus for Transport Policy?

Some of the most dramatic effects of the Covid-19 outbreak and the response measures it demands have been on modes of transport. Airlines have been grounded, discretionary domestic travel is discouraged and the use of public transport is advised against.[1] Instead, the Government has promoted cycling and walking as a form of safe, socially distanced travel. With the consequences of the virus expected to persist for a ‘long period of time’[2] transport policy is shifting to keep people moving.

Read More »
Torness nuclear power station
Nuclear

Five Notable Developments In Nuclear This Week 17.04.2020

It has been announced that Jacobs, a Dallas headquartered energy consulting, engineering and construction services firm, has been awarded several contracts with an estimated combined value of $25 million. The contracts were awarded by Fusion for Energy (F4E), the ITER Organization and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in order to support leading-edge research in fusion energy.

Read More »
Torness nuclear power station
Nuclear

Five COVID-19 Developments In Nuclear 02.04.2020

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, EDF Energy has introduced a series of measures to ensure its employees are protected against the virus. Not only has it significantly reduced activity on its Hinkley Point C site from 4,000 to 2,000 workers, but it has also instituted extra cleaning, working from home, banning visitors, temperature checks, and bringing in more buses to allow workers to stay apart.

Read More »
  • Request A Free Consultation

    Get in touch to arrange your free consultation call.