UK government wants more clarity on biobased, biodegradable products

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In the United Kingdom, the government is seeking information to help standardize terminology related to biobased and biodegradable plastics in an effort to reduce misinformation and greenwashing. The call for evidence characterizes current definitions “really confusing.”

Designers praised the UK’s efforts, saying greenwashing is leading to false claims of environmental products. Sophie Thomas of environmental communication design studio Thomas.Matthews, tells dezeen it is difficult for her firm to get “reliable information” about materials. “You can call something ‘biodegradable’ when it’s actually not,” she tells the online design publication. Compostable plastics often require industrial composters—which the United Kingdom lacks—so the waste ends up in a landfill, she adds.

“This government call for evidence will help provide holistic insights on the positive and negative aspects of each plastics and where we should all focus our goodwill,” Architect Arthur Mamou-Mani adds. “Labels such as ‘biodegradable’ are now too vague and misleading for the public… Activism can only be effective when informed by unbiased international metrics, standards and certifications.”