Less than 2% of biodegradable bags can cause detriment to carrier bag recycling, study shows


A study commissioned by European Plastics Converters (EuPC) has shown that biodegradable bags in quantities as low as 2 per cent will cause “signficant, detrimental impacts to the quality of plastics recyclates”.

In studies undertaken by Austrian research centre Transfer for Polymer Technology, four different mixtures of biodegradable plastic bags and one virgin LDPE recycling material were tested over six months.


More than 9.45 tonnes of plastic carrier bags were processed and over 3,700 measurements were taken.

Detrimental impacts of mixing the materials showed that there was an impact on the mechanical properties of the recycled material, but also had a visual impact on the newly produced film.

As a result of the study, EuPC is urging European Union legislators to ensure separate collection of degradable bags.

EuPC managing director Alexandre Dangis said: “Over the past years, there has been considerable concern in Europe surrounding the effects of biodegradable plastics on recycling streams.

“These test results now prove that separate collection of degradable plastic products is needed in Europe if we want to further develop recycling streams and work towards a circular economy.”