Tesco, Waitrose and Aldi are among more than 40 major organisations calling on the UK Government to stop plastic materials which require additives to degrade to be sold on the UK market.
The calls follow news that the British Standards Institution (BSI) enacted a new specification (PAS9017) this month supporting the sale of such plastics.
In an open letter, the organisations have called on the Government to follow the lead of the EU, which is banning similar oxo-degradable plastics from next year.
The letter highlights how such degradable materials do not solve the global problem of plastic pollution, stating it instead encourages members of the public to litter under the misconception that the material is biodegradable.
The letter has been signed by representatives from a host of major supermarkets, as well as leading environmentalists such as Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet, Julie Williams, CEO of Butterfly Conservation, and John Read, Founder of Clean Up Britain.
Representatives from associations such as National Farmers’ Union, Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA), and the Environmental Services Association (ESA) have also added their names to the letter.
Increasing evidence shows that microplastics are entering the food chain through animals, fruits and vegetables. This impacts human health, soil health and biodiversity.
Equally, these degradable plastic alternatives will disrupt the Britain’s Recycling facilities, which will be unable to differentiate between conventional plastics and doctored alternatives.
There are also concerns that British companies that take up these materials could find they are unable to export their products to the EU once the ban comes into force in 2021.
The letter reads: “These materials contain additives that accelerate the conversion of macroplastics into microplastics after months or years of laying in the open.”
It also added: “The UK voted for the EU ban when it was proposed in 2019. Failing to act now could turn Britain from a leader into a laggard in fighting the plastic crisis.
“For these reasons, we call on the Government to protect our environment, protect our food production, and protect British business by banning these materials immediately.”