Everything in the universe eventually breaks down and degrades. This means claims regarding biodegradability are easy to make. However, the real question is: how long does it take and what does it breakdown into? In some cases, materials pitched as being friendly to the environment often fall significantly short of environment friendly claims upon closer inspection. One of these materials is oxo-degradable plastic.
Oxo-degradable plastic is plastic with additives, typically plant starch or metals, that help it quickly breakdown into smaller pieces of plastic. So instead of an old plastic bag floating around in nature we end up with an equivalent quantity of small pieces of micro-plastic which are often impossible to collect and dispose of.
These oxo-degradable plastics, that do more environmental harm than good, are often passed off as being biodegradable, leading to the pollution recycled organic waste streams.
Spotting the difference between products that biodegrade into something other than plastic and the oxo-degradable plastics that do is not easy. They can look the same. Because this deception is so easy, regulators have moved to ban oxo-degradable plastics. In Switzerland they will be banned from 1 April 2022, reported RTS.
The Swiss ban is the result of a motion put forward by Isabelle Chevalley, a former federal parliamentarian from the Liberal Green Party. Chevalley highlighted the issue and Switzerland decided to bring its rules into line with rules already in force in the EU.