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Progress in the EU's Green Deal? EU Commission proposes new measures for bioplastics and sets targets for packaging


(Hanover, 02.12.2022) Mandatory labelling for bio-based products, mandatory recycling rates for manufacturers of plastic packaging and more information for consumers: As a leading research institute in the field of bioplastics, the IfBB welcomes the measures recently presented by the EU Commission to reduce plastic waste across Europe.

The proposed regulations of the EU Commission contain the essential aspects of recycling and the circular economy of plastics in order to reduce plastic waste and to effectively advance the circular economy in Europe.

Particularly important are the increase of the recycling rate in connection with the use of recycled materials, both for fossil-based and bio-based plastics, and the establishment of a sustainably functioning circular economy, if possible also on a regional level.

When looking at bioplastics, the following should be considered:

The political framework for the further use of bioplastics is largely appropriate, whereby the following points are essential from the IfBB's point of view:

  1. The Commission is right to demand that degradable plastics only be used if degradability means a real additional benefit, for example in agriculture or medicine. Otherwise, their use should be viewed critically, as reusable rather than disposable use is always preferable. And: The fight against marine pollution must also focus exclusively on unavoidable plastic inputs into the environment, e.g. in the case of lost fishing nets or fish traps. Even degradable plastics do not belong in the environment per se!

  2. In addition to degradable plastics, more attention should be paid to the much more frequently used durable plastics. In most cases, bio-based durable plastics offer greater potential for use and are recyclable or reusable. Plastics are far too valuable to be disposed of after a single use.
  1. We still urgently need a secure definition of the term bioplastics. There are still many misunderstandings: In public, the term bioplastics is often mistakenly equated with degradable plastics. This makes it clear: concrete educational work on bioplastics and a clear demarcation between biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics is urgently needed. In this respect, compulsory labelling of the biobased content of a product and clarification of the term "biodegradable" are correct, but not sufficient.

Bioplastics are also just plastics and thus part of the plastics family. There are often double standards when comparing bioplastics with fossil-based plastics, for example in their sustainability assessment.

Certification procedures such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) for wood or ISCC Plus (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) for biobased and recycled raw materials already exist today for the provision of raw materials of biobased plastics. However, a comparably certified more sustainable or cleaner extraction of petroleum for the production of conventional plastics does not exist!

Indirect effects of oil extraction, such as fracking damage, pipeline leaks, accidents or road construction and development of oil fields, are generally not taken into account. If, as envisaged by the EU Commission, only raw materials from sustainable sources may be used for bio-based plastics, this is absolutely right. However, with regard to the sustainability assessment, the same criteria should apply to both fossil-based and bio-based plastics.

Against this background, fossil-based plastics and their recyclates should not be given preference; bio-based plastics and bio-based recyclates must be promoted to the same extent as their fossil counterparts.

In view of the finite nature of oil, we need alternatives such as bio-based plastics and their recyclates. Research into the use of residues as raw materials for bio-based plastics is in full swing and will continue to progress.


The proposed measures on the design of packaging are also very welcome. Only if we think about the recyclability of packaging when we design it, or if we design it as reusable packaging, can we finally consistently increase the recycling rate of packaging and at the same time sustainably reduce the amount of plastic waste in Europe.

In concrete terms, we at the IfBB have long been calling for:

  1. to increase the recycling rate:
  • the consistent use of mono-materials,
  • the application of separation or disposal instructions on the packaging, and
  • strict recycling quotas for those placing packaging on the market.
  1. to curb plastic waste:
  • reducing the amount of material: use as little plastic as possible, e.g. use thin-walled bottles for cosmetics instead of thick-walled ones, and
  • the use of reusable systems to reduce the amount of packaging.

These are precisely the points that the new measures of the EU Commission are pushing for!

All measures together have the potential to bring us in Europe a big step closer to the circular economy of plastics. However, it is important that not only consumers, but first and foremost industry and production are held accountable, as their influence is particularly great. Huge quantities of plastics are produced and used in industry, so we will not get far if only consumers do their share in the form of consumption and disposal behaviour.

The proposed measures of the EU Commission can be found here:
Proposal for a Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste
Communication on a policy framework for biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics