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Tuesday, December 6, 2022Authorities

No plastic in household compost, recommends French ANSES

Aucun plastique dans les composts domestiques, recommande l'ANSES

Even if it is said to be “biodegradable” or “compostable”, no plastic should be placed in a domestic compost bin, warned ANSES in an expert opinion published on 28 November 2022. For the French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety, the total degradation of such materials is not guaranteed in these composters and the resulting compost may then present a risk to humans and the environment.

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More than one in three French people recycle their waste in domestic or collective composters, according to ANSES. In addition to putting vegetable peelings in it, some people add plastic waste, particularly single-use plastics known as “biodegradable” or “compostable”.

Biosourced, biodegradable or compostable plastics…

Some of the plastic packaging and consumer products on the market are described as “biosourced”, “biodegradable” or “compostable”. These terms, which cover different concepts, can be confusing, explains the Agency.

• So-called “bio-based” plastics are made from natural resources such as corn starch, with no minimum content of natural resources. Single-use plastics must contain at least 50% of naturally occurring material.
• Plastics are said to be “biodegradable” if they degrade under the action of micro-organisms.
• Compostable” plastics are biodegradable plastics that degrade under specific conditions (temperature, hygrometry) of composting, whether industrial or domestic. According to current standards, these materials must degrade by more than 90%, within a maximum of 6 or 12 months, depending on whether the composting is done in industrial or domestic conditions.

… are potentially sources of pollution

Even for those claiming to be “biosourced, biodegradable or compostable”, ANSES is alarmed, there is no guarantee that these plastics will completely degrade …

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