24th February 2022
Biobased, biodegradable, and compostable plastics currently make up 1% of the global and European plastic market, with an overall expected growth of 5–8% between 2020 and 2025. As the market expands, considering sustainability is vital. To address this, the European Commission is developing a new policy framework for biobased plastics. To help shape the framework, the Commission is running a public consultation.
The new policy framework will address the emerging sustainability challenges related to the use of the biobased, biodegradable, and compostable plastics. It also aims at driving innovation, enhancing investment certainty within the internal market, and increasing environmental protection. The framework is one of the main deliverable objectives of the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan.
One policy area included looks at the sustainability of the biological feedstock used to produce biobased plastics. Using biological feedstock instead of feedstock made from fossil fuels can help reduce the environmental impacts of plastics across the whole life-cycle. However, the full life-cycle environmental impacts need to be considered – including land use changes, biodiversity, and climate impacts.
Negative social impacts of feedstock production are also relevant as production can include risks, such as unsafe working conditions, child labour, and unfair wages. It is crucial that biobased plastics are produced in accordance with labour and social standards. Environmental benefits must not ignore the potential negative impacts on workers and their wider communities.
The Bonsucro Production Standard addresses labour and community rights, land use change, biodiversity, and climate impacts such as agrochemical use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions. Our data consistently demonstrates that Bonsucro certified sugarcane producers reduce their environmental impact. For example, our latest Outcome Report shows that certiﬁed mills reduce water use by 50% after five years of certification and average wages on certified farms are 19% above national minimum wage.
However, the EU doesn’t yet have any sustainability criteria for bio-based plastics, yet consumers expect them to be fully sustainable. Bonsucro welcomes the public consultation and recommends that interested members participate.
The target audiences for the consultation are citizens, consumers and expert stakeholders including waste management organisations, standard setting and certification bodies, NGOs, and other academic, scientific, social and economic partners.
Anyone interested in participating in the public consultation can complete the online survey in English, Spanish, Italian, German, or French. The deadline to submit feedback is 15 March 2022.
Take part the public consultation here.