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NAPCOR Position on Degradable Additives

NAPCOR Opposes the Use of Degradable Additives in PET Packaging

NAPCOR expresses its concerns pertaining to degradable additives in this one-page statement, and in two press releases issued in 2009 and 2011. All three continue to reflect NAPCOR's position on this issue.

May 2009
NAPCOR Calls For Restraint in the Use of Degradable Additives in PET Packaging
May 2011
Degradable Additives Provide Poor End-of-Life Option for PET Packaging, Says NAPCOR

"Proposed laws would require 'not recyclable' labeling on biodegradable plastic containers" Plastics News, April 4, 2013

Laws proposed in North Carolina and Alabama could require containers made from biodegradable or compostable plastic to be labeled non-recyclable.  full article

"(California) Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Sues Plastic Water Bottle Companies over Misleading Claims of Biodegradability" (link to California Department of Justice Press Release, 10/26/11) 

Update on California Bill SB 567 (restricting plastics end-of-life claims)

California Governor Jerry Brown signed state Senate Bill 567 into law on October 9, 2011. The new law expands a current law, and will restrict the use of potentially misleading end-of-life labeling claims (compostable, degradable, biodegradable) on all plastic products, regardless of plastic type or item.

Under the law, end-of-life claims must be verifiable using ASTM standard specifications (or other standards deemed equivalent or better). Labeling that implies that a plastic product will break down, fragment, biodegrade or decompose in a landfill is prohibited under the law (unless a relevant standard, as defined in the law, can substantiate the claim). Current law: PRC §42355-9 (html page) Revised: SB 567 (pdf file) 
 
FTC "Green" Guides 

The proposed revisions to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guides for Environmental Marketing Claims, "Green" Guides, are expected to be finalized and issued shortly. The revised Guides state that degradable claims must be qualified (as to what portions of a product or package will degrade and how long it will take) unless marketer can substantiate that the "entire product or package will completely breakdown and return to nature within a reasonably short period of time." The Guides disallow unqualified claims about items destined for landfills because decomposition will not occur within one year. See "Summary of Proposal" (pdf file) or summary of FTC process (html) with links to full text. 

Relevant Studies and Links

NSF International (1/5/2011). Aquamantra NSF PET D5511 Test Results Final Report (html) 


Of the over 2,000 U.S. landfills, only about a quarter currently capture and utilize the methane generated. See the Environmental Protection Agency's information page on this subject.  

Degradable Additives Positions
The following organizations have either come out with a strong position against use of degradable additives, or urge caution in weighing environmental and recycling claims as they relate to use of these additives. Links are to relevant statements or related information. (This is a partial list only.)
Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR): http://www.plasticsrecycling.org/about-us-main/gr

Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/osw/wycd/catbook/debate.htm

Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC), first item under "Recent Successes": http://www.serdc.org/

Association of Oregon Recyclers: http://aorr.org/degradable_additives.html?utm_source=AOR+Contact+List&utm_campaign=734025dad3-AOR_Listserve_111611&utm_medium=email/

Bioplastics Council (a special interest group of SPI) :
http://www.plasticsindustry.org/BPC/Publications/content.cfm?ItemNumber=3765&navItemNumber=3779

European Plastics Recyclers: http://www.plasticsrecyclers.eu/press?content=degradable&commit=Search

Northeast Recycling Council (NERC), under "NERC's News": http://www.nerc.org/

New Mexico Recycling Coalition (Board voted to support position against degradable additives, November 2011)

updated April 2013

News & Events
December 5, 2016
Link to 2-minute "Your Bottle Means Jobs" Video
December 5, 2016
New Video Highlights Job Creation Through Plastic Bottle Recycling (link to full press release)
November 2016
Going Beyond Collection: NAPCOR looks at PET thermoform recycling opportunities and challenges in November issue of "Plastics Recycling Update"
> More News
A guide to setting up PET recycling programs outside of the conventional curbside and drop-off programs.
> learn more