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Tesco's move to ditch bio bags draws additive fire

By Anthony Clark
Posted 23 August 2011
Tesco's decision to stop using biodegradable plastic bags has kicked up a rumpus amongst bio additives producers: degradable plastics specialist Symphony Environmental Technologies has queried the UK retailer's decision to drop biodegradable bags due to their weakness -- calling into question the science behind the statement.

EPI Environmental Products, which supplied the additive used by Tesco in its oxo-biodegradable plastic (OBP) bags, defended its technology. “The weakness of the Tesco bags was most certainly not a result of using OBP additives,” it said in a statement.

“EPI supplied additives for Tesco bags for several years and is aware that problems with weak bags were not observed until Tesco implemented cost-cutting measures such as film thickness reduction and increase in fillers and recycled content.”

Symphony’s spokesman echoed EPI’s comments: “These bags were made with additive supplied by one of our competitors, and they were weak because they were not suitably made. This has nothing to do with degradability.”

“Interestingly, Tesco’s decision to discontinue usage of OBP additive followed shortly after the release of the UK Defra report on OBP, which raised questions about OBP performance and appears to have influenced Tesco’s key decision makers,” added EPI.

According to the company, the Defra report was based an incomplete literature review of OBP technology, and the erroneous conclusions drawn regarding OBP degradation and biodegradation were based on misconceptions.

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