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Biodegradable and compostable plastics: what are the challenges and opportunities?

Biodegradable and compostable plastics - challenges anf opportunities

Author: 
EEA
Publication Date: 
August, 2020
Country: 
EU

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Scope:

More and more plastic products are being labelled as ‘compostable’, ‘biodegradable’, ‘oxo-degradable’ or ‘bio-based’. However, plastics made from bio-based materials are not necessarily compostable or biodegradable. Moreover, plastics that do biodegrade can be made from fossil fuel-based materials.

What is the difference between compostable and biodegradable? What happens to biodegradable and compostable plastics when they are littered? Can citizens compost such products in their own gardens? Can such plastics be recycled?

This European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing aims to answer these questions.