OPA Challenges Defra’s Decision Over Biodegradable Plastic Bags Tender

carrier bagsThe Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association (OPA) is challenging Defra’s recent award of a tender for a project on biodegradable plastic carrier bags to Aquapak Polymers and Axion Consulting and has questioned whether there was prejudice in the decision.

Defra issued a tender in December 2013 for a publicly funded project on biodegradable plastic carrier bags.

The successful companies in the tender were Aquapak Polymers and Axion Consulting.

Although these companies have expertise in recycling, the tender was for a project on biodegradable plastic carrier bags, and, according to the OPA, they appear to have “no expertise with biodegradable polymers”.

The OPA states Axion’s evidence to the Environment Select Committee is against an exemption for biodegradable bags.

A Consortium consisting of Euro Packaging, Symphony Environmental and Nottingham University also submitted a tender.

OPA – “We would be concerned if they included some of the people well known to be prejudiced against oxo-biodegradable plastics to whom Defra so often turn for advice”

Euro Packaging has an extensive expertise in blown film extrusion, with an annual capacity of circa 100,000 tonnes, and currently supplies carriers into the UK’s major grocery retailers. It also has experience of working with biodegradable technologies and has on-site recycling capabilities.

The company said in its tender: “Oxo-biodegradable products have successfully overcome the commercial obstacle often associated with added value films due to their additive-based application, and their compatibility with polyethylene has enabled carrier bag manufacture with uncompromised mechanical performance.

“It has been demonstrated by independent LCA (Intertek Report May 2012 A Life Cycle Assessment of Oxo-biodegradable, Compostable and Conventional Bags) that a high-density polyethylene carrier bag incorporating oxo-biodegradable technology is the most environmentally efficient method of manufacture of a carrier bag. The addition of oxo-biodegradable technology enhances the overall environmental impact…

“With existing UK manufacturing sites already established, Euro Packaging are perfectly positioned to develop a UK-based, dedicated flexible film extrusion and conversion facility in conjunction with this proposal…

“Their state-of-the-art warehousing and customer-driven transport strategy enable them to distribute up to 1,300 pallets of products every day to customers in over 20 different countries. They also employ more than 1,000 professionals worldwide, generate revenues exceeding £150m.”

The combined expertise of Euro Packaging, Symphony and Nottingham University is exactly what is required for this project, the OPA has said.

The OPA would like to know whom Defra appointed as assessors for this tender. “We would be concerned if they included some of the people well known to be prejudiced against oxo-biodegradable plastics to whom Defra so often turn for advice,” the OPA said in a statement.

“We may have to ask the courts to rule on this matter if a contract is awarded to Aquapak and Axion,” it said.

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