Petition Introduce plant based plastic islandwide to reduce usage of single use plastic

50 percent of plastics wasted are 'single use plastics.' This means we consume the plastic product once, then dispose of it. We do this daily without realising. Examples of this would be the use of coffee cup lids, plastic bags, plastic pens & even food packaging.

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'Vegware' plastics are completely natural and made from plants / oils. This means the veg plastic can be decomposed and made back into soil. Plastics at the moment get thrown away and incinerated which causes air pollution. Some plastics take years to break down so end up left in the ocean. A new invention 'Garbage Guzzlers' digests food waste & outputs soil. If people started using 'Vegware' plastic, this machine would be able to decompose the 'Vegware' back into its original, natural form.

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Ministers responded

This response was given on 21 June 2019

Plant based plastics are readily available in Jersey from commercial suppliers and many establishments use these products. These plastics are single use items, thus reusable options are preferred.

Bioplastic products (plastic items made from plant or other biological material instead of petroleum) are readily available in Jersey. A number of wholesalers offer items as described in the petition with many establishments including cafes and restaurants transitioning to providing plant based single use bioplastics instead of traditional petroleum based items.

The Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel published a review “Reducing use of plastics in Jersey” on 8 March 2019. The report states ‘Plastic pollution is a global issue which causes harm to the environment in the form of air, water and land pollution and has negative effects on plant life, wildlife and the human population.’

There are two main types of bioplastics:
• Polylactic acids (PLAs) are made by extracting sugar from plants like sugar cane. PLA plastic is the most common type of bioplastic as it is the cheapest to produce. It is used in food packaging, plastic bottles, textiles and the other items described in the petition. Plant based plastics are derived from natural plants and oils but require significant processing to make the bio-plastic.

• Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are engineered from microorganisms and are mainly used in medical devices like sutures and cardiovascular patches.

Disposal of bioplastics requires industrial composting. It is necessary to heat the bioplastic to a high enough temperature in order for microbes to break it down. Without these high temperatures bioplastics do not degrade on their own. Bioplastic behaves similarly to petroleum-based plastics if they end up in the marine environment so continue to present a danger to marine life. Jersey does not have industrial scale composting but there are individual establishments and small scale industrial composting solutions on the island.

It is important to note that composting bioplastics along with food waste containing animal by-products including waste food containing meat, in any composter (including an industrial composter) is highly regulated by European directives with common requirements across Europe. This is because outbreaks of livestock diseases and zoonoses have resulted from transmission via this route with colossal economic impact (foot and mouth disease, African swine fever, mad cow disease – and importantly export trade barriers for not properly controlling animal by-products). Jersey’s waste food and animal by-products controls are in-line with EU requirements; the activity and transport of the compost must be carried out in compliance with the Animal Health (Animal By-Products) (Jersey) Order 2018 and the Animal Health (Waste Food) (Jersey) Order 2018.

Waste generated in Jersey, that is not separated for recycling, is sent for energy recovery and not landfill. Therefore the end of life for bioplastics is the same for petroleum plastics with the exception of plastic bottles, and agricultural and supermarket film which is currently recycled. Littering is the primary reason for plastic waste entering Jersey’s natural and marine environments.

The combined response from the Ministers for Environment and Infrastructure to the review by the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel outlined that an up-to-date Waste Strategy for the Island is needed. The development of this tool will explore the opportunities available through waste management technologies, customer engagement, regulation and fiscal levers. While the Government of Jersey (GoJ) department of Growth, Housing and Environment (GHE) acknowledges the urgency for solutions to reduce the Island's single use plastics, it is essential that this work is complementary to the development of the Island's future Waste Strategy. This does not mean that no steps will be taken to reduce the use of single use plastic until the Waste Strategy is complete.

Article 4 of the revised EU Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC) sets out five steps for dealing with waste, ranked according to environmental impact - the ‘waste hierarchy’. Jersey’s waste management is in-line with this framework directive. The waste hierarchy sees prevention of waste at the top of the hierarchy resulting in the least negative environmental impact. The scrutiny review identified that we are already working with the local community to provide support and advice and examples of waste prevention. This includes meeting with suppliers and potential customers to encourage the use of products that provide a more sustainable alternative to single use plastics, either petroleum based plastics or bioplastics. The GoJ programme, Eco Active has been working in partnership with the Surfers Against Sewage organisation on the ‘Plastic Free Jersey’ campaign which is centred on raising public awareness to reduce plastic usage favouring prevention and reuse above recycling or other recovery methods for waste. Currently there are no other regulatory or economic policy levers being implemented by GoJ to complement awareness campaigns.

GHE Officers monitor the national, European and global marketplace. In May 2019 the UK confirmed plans to introduce new controls on single use plastic items in 2020. The European parliament has also recently placed a ban on specific single use plastic items. These controls will undoubtedly have an impact on the local Jersey supply chain and, as a result, the availability and use of these items locally will reduce.

Eco active encourages local businesses to reduce their environmental impact by considering the waste generated by their activities and the options available to them such as employing a sustainable approach to procurement and investigating waste management options and technologies. This does not require GoJ involvement unless regulatory approval is required to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation.

The Island’s Energy Recovery Facility is under the regulatory control of the Waste Management (Jersey) Law 2005, and it operates to EU emission standards with regards to atmospheric emissions. The facility is constantly monitored to ensure it operates in accordance with the licence and EU air quality standards.

In summary, there is an opportunity to reduce single use plastics and we welcome actions taken by the public and local industry to achieve this. We have been providing support and encouragement across the community in this regard for some time. The work that will result in the development of the Island’s future Waste Strategy will explore opportunities for the Island to work together to reduce single use plastics in more detail. Our current waste disposal mechanism for plastic waste (excluding plastic bottles, agricultural and supermarket film) is incineration for energy recovery, and therefore all other end of use plastics are disposed of in this way and do not escape into the natural environment. Plant based plastics are single use items that behave the same as petroleum based plastics when they are littered in the natural, including marine, environment. Therefore we would not consider a replacement of petroleum based plastics with bioplastics to be a solution to the global issue of plastic pollution causing harm to the environment in the form of air, water and land pollution, or resolving its negative effects on plant life, wildlife and the human population. Our preference remains to prevent waste being generated through awareness and demand for reusable options. Plant based plastics are already available in Jersey from a number of commercial suppliers.

Minister for the Environment and Minister for Infrastructure

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