Industry leaders have welcomed government interest in biodegradable carrier bags following Nick Clegg's recent announcement of the 5p carrier bag charge.
In his speech at the Conservative Party Conference, environment secretary Owen Paterson said that he wanted to "work with industry on setting a standard for biodegradable [carrier] bags' and that ‘any bags complying with this new standard could be given out by retailers for free or at a lower cost, reducing their environmental impact and incentivising a whole new industry."
According to Wells Plastics, many countries around the world look favorably on these materials and support oxo-biodegradable legislation, which has been successfully established in a number of countries including the UAE and more recently Pakistan. These countries and others are already benefitting from oxo-biodegradables yet the UK fails to understand the impact this technology could have on Britain's environment.
Ted Goold, chairman of Wells Plastics, who welcomed Paterson's announcement, said: "The UK is a world leader in oxo-biodegradable plastic additives. Together with our UK competitors we are exporting these high tech, value-added products all over the world; helping over 40 countries reduce litter and the adverse environmental impact of discarded carrier bags and other plastic products.
"This is a real UK success story which is why it is all the more frustrating that the UK government has, until recently, ignored the potential these products have for reducing waste and litter on our doorstep."
Wells sales director, Carl Birch, added: "Oxo-biodegradable carrier bags are far more suitable from an environmental perspective than the current proposed compostable route currently favored by DEFRA. The need for compostability rather than biodegradability is misguided because most bags typically end up in landfill so it is the ones that end up as litter that we need to control.
"It is highly unlikely that a compostable carrier bag would find its way into the composting arena and much more likely to end its journey at a landfill site with all other non-recyclable waste. The new standards should allow for the use of oxo-biodegradables as a viable solution to combat littering issues – not only are they much better for the environment, they can be reused and recycled, too."