“Compostable” plastic packaging is “not a solution”, and the priority must be to limit the use of all packaging, warns Ademe, the ecological transition agency, on Thursday. "Choosing compostable plastic packaging is not a solution to the issue of pollution generated by plastics in the environment", underlines Ademe in an opinion specifically devoted to these fashionable products.
It recalls in particular that these plastics do not have an “ability to biodegrade in a natural environment” but only under very specific composting conditions (temperature, specific micro-organisms, etc.). In addition, Ademe emphasizes that composting a plastic is not recycling (the material is no longer available to manufacture a new product) and that its decomposition has no fertilizing value.
The health security agency (Anses) had also called last year to “ban plastic materials from domestic compost”, noting a risk of “contamination” of the environment or crops. Ademe concludes that compostable plastics are of interest only on two conditions: to help increase the quantities of recycled bio-waste and not to disrupt waste treatment channels. Packaging that meets these two conditions today “is very specific” for certain uses, such as bags “used for collecting kitchen and table waste, or coffee capsules”. The public agency recalls that the order of priority must be to prevent, reuse and then recycle packaging.
Plastic pollution is a major global problem: litter of all sizes ends up on the ocean floor, in sea ice, in the stomachs of birds and even on top of mountains. Microplastics have been detected in blood, breast milk or placenta. A little over a year ago in Nairobi (Kenya), 175 countries agreed to end plastic pollution in the world by developing a legally binding treaty by the end of 2024 under the aegis of the United Nations. Paris will host a second negotiating session from May 29 to June 2.