STATEMENT: Plant Based Products Council Statement on Recent University of Plymouth Study


May 7, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – A recent study, conducted by scientists at the University of Plymouth and published by Environmental Science & Technology, has led to significantly misleading and inaccurate coverage in the press regarding the environmental benefits of plastic alternatives, including biodegradable and compostable materials.

In response to this report and ensuing coverage, Plant Based Products Council (PBPC) Spokesperson Mary Solecki commented:

“The bag used to purportedly show that biodegradable bags do not always effectively degrade was not a certified biodegradable bag and had never been marketed by the manufacturer as such. Further, the compostable bag used to purportedly show a failure of compostability was not composted. To determine compostability, compostable materials should be composted in compliance with applicable standards. The University of Plymouth study on plastic alternatives, and the methodology used, simply does not support the leading conclusions reported in the press.

PBPC agrees with the study authors that standardized definitions and use of terms like biodegradable and compostable is important, and the use of these terms should help consumers understand how to properly dispose of materials.

There is an elaborate body of scientific evidence demonstrating that materials meeting ‘biodegradable’ and ‘compostable’ certification criteria perform as intended with significant environmental benefit.

The study very appropriately called for expansion of America’s composting infrastructure. To do so would support greater use of compostable materials that improve greenhouse emissions, municipal waste, water quality and soil health.”

Municipal waste management is a rapidly growing issue. In 2015, the average U.S. citizen sent roughly 239 pounds of food waste to landfills. Composting this waste alone would have been the equivalent of removing carbon emissions from 10 million cars from the road. Join PBPC AND

Agri-Pulse on Wednesday, May 8 at 12:00pm EST for a free webinar for International Compost Awareness Week.

Register here: https://pbpc.com/international-compost-awareness-week-webinar/


The Plant Based Products Council is a group of like-minded organizations working to guide the global economy toward more sustainable and responsible consumer products and packaging through greater use of plant-based materials.