Response to BBC coverage on oxo-biodegradable plastic
Symphony Environmental Technologies Plc (AIM:SYM), a global specialist in technologies
that “make plastics smarter”, makes the following statement on the coverage of its d2w
plastic technology on the BBC news yesterday (19 July).
The Company’s Chief Executive, Michael Laurier said:
“Nearly all previous media coverage has been about the problem of plastic in the open
environment, rather than the solution. Whilst the BBC’s coverage did not, in our opinion,
fairly present the scientifically proven benefit of oxo-biodegradable technology, we are
pleased that the BBC has now focused on the solution, and introduced our Company
and our d2w technology to a much wider audience.
All plastics will fragment when exposed in the open environment, but the problem with
ordinary plastics is that their fragments will lie or float around for decades before
becoming biodegradable, and will persist and accumulate as a problem for future
generations. During that time, they break down into microplastics and may attract
and carry toxins.
Symphony’s d2w technology was invented to accelerate the degradation process and
reduce the dwell-time of plastic in the environment, by adding a catalyst which promotes
oxidation and converts the plastic into biodegradable materials. It is essential to
understand that it does not just create fragments. d2w plastic can be recycled if
collected but degradation followed by biodegradation is there to protect the
environment if all else fails.
It is legitimate for the BBC reporter to question whether d2w technology actually works.
To answer that question for ourselves and our customers we have commissioned
scientific tests over more than 20 years so as to be quite sure that we would not
be making misleading claims.
Based on this evidence a d2w plastic product will become biodegradable if exposed
to oxygen on land or sea much more quickly than ordinary plastic.
These tests included successful exposure in seawater at the Bandol laboratory in France,
and subsequent testing at Queen Mary University, London. We were therefore surprised
when Richard Thompson of Plymouth University produced a bag which he claimed had
failed to degrade. Mr. Thompson is not a polymer scientist, and we were given no
opportunity before the broadcast to investigate his claim.
As previously reported by Symphony it is correct that the EU Chemicals Agency (“ECHA”) is
studying “oxo-degradable” plastic at the request of the EU Commission. We welcome this,
and have submitted detailed evidence to ECHA that “oxo-degradable” plastic is not the
same as “oxo-biodegradable” plastic and that d2w plastic will fully biodegrade within a
reasonable time and much more quickly than ordinary plastic into non-plastic
biodegradable materials that will themselves naturally biodegrade in a similar
way to a leaf.
The programme showed d2w plastic products being used in the Ivory Coast, where the
government is concerned that plastic litter which gets into the environment should not lie
or float around for decades. They, like several other governments across the world, are
encouraging the use of d2w. Plastic is essential to the people of the Ivory Coast for
protecting their food and water from contamination. A plastic ban could cause an
epidemic and is most unlikely, therefore an alternate solution such as d2w is required.
We hope that the item on BBC news yesterday is the beginning of an open and honest
debate about innovative solutions such as d2w. It is time to stop talking about the
problem, and to focus on the solutions, for which d2w is one of a suite of Symphony’s
technologies that we encourage governments and corporates to adopt.”