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Bioplastics aren’t the future, says Potocnik


Janez Potočnik, the European Commissioner for the Environment, told an audience at PolyTalk 2012 that bioplastics are not about to replace petroleum-based products – conventional materials are not under threat.
“At first glance, a quick fix solution for plastic litter may be the use of more bioplastics, including biodegradable and compostable plastic,” he said. “There is certainly a rapidly-expanding market for bioplastics from a production base which is still very low.
“Bioplastics, and in particular biodegradable plastic, certainly have their ideal applications, but at the moment it seems fairly unrealistic to assume that petro-olefin based plastics could or should be replaced in the mid and long term by bioplastics.”
Potočnik confirmed he would publish a green paper on plastic waste in order to ensure that it is seen as a potential resource and not a waste issue.
“I will soon be launching a broad debate on plastic in the context of resource efficiency by issuing green paper on plastic waste in the environment. I want this to trigger a reflection about what we must do to make full use of the benefits of plastic products while minimising their potential negative impacts,” he explained.
“Unfortunately, even today, nearly 50 % of plastic in Europe goes to landfill; this is broadly the equivalent to 12 million tons of crude oil that we dump on landfills every year. I know that this is a situation that you in the plastics industry also deplore. The other half goes to recovery, mostly energy recovery, and to a lesser extent into recycling.”

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