UK Government considers ban on oxo-degradable plastics

Oxo-degradable garbage bags in Malaysia
(Yati Yahaya, Shutterstock)

A ban on oxo-degradable plastics may be introduced by the UK Government, following a public consultation.

Oxo-degradable plastics are conventional polymers with added chemicals, which cause the material to breakdown when exposed to heat, UV lights and/or heat and oxygen. The technology has been used in things such as shopping bags, water bottles and salad bags.

The UK Government said that there was a ‘clear’ consensus found in response to the consultation on oxo-degradable plastics, which was that it is ‘unproven’ and ‘likely’ to be a source of microplastic pollution.

In 2018, an EU commissioned study said that oxo-degradable plastics fragment over time into smaller plastic particles and that there is no evidence that these fragments will fully biodegrade within a ‘reasonable’ time frame.

The government said it will now consider banning oxo-degradable plastics, subject to further research and public consultation.