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Parliamentary questions
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11 September 2019
Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-002257/2019

1. The Commission supports Member States in the implementation of waste management requirements under the Waste Framework Directive (WFD)(1). It is the responsibility of national authorities to decide how to manage waste, including bioplastic or bio-based plastics, in compliance with the EU requirements. ‘Bioplastics’ or ‘bio-based plastics’ are not a separate category of waste defined under EC law; they are subject to the provisions applying to the existing categories of waste, depending on which type of waste each bio-based plastic corresponds to (for example packaging or household wastes).

2. Bio-waste is defined in the WFD(2) and is subject to strict rules concerning its separate collection and management by 2023(3). Wastes from ‘bio-based plastics’ should a priori not be considered as bio-waste. Bio-based plastics are not necessarily biodegradable and/or compostable. In the absence of EU-wide definition of ‘bio-based plastics’, any decision on this point should be based on the actual characteristics of the relevant waste in question.

3. The recently adopted ‘Single Use Plastics Directive’(4) does not distinguish bio-based from conventional single use plastics. However, the EU Plastics Strategy stipulates that the Commission intends to propose harmonised rules for defining and labelling compostable and biodegradable plastics. Research is ongoing to support the development of a framework on biodegradability of plastics to ensure that ‘the development and use of such plastic products is only encouraged when it is beneficial to the environment and does not interfere with waste management systems nor compromise food safety’(5).

(1)Directive 2008/98/EC, OJ L 312, 22.11.2008, p. 3‐30.
(2)Article 3(4) defines biowaste as “…biodegradable garden and park waste, food and kitchen waste from households, offices, restaurants, wholesale, canteens, caterers and retail premises and comparable waste from food processing plants”.
(3)Article 11a(4) and Article 22.
(4)Directive (EU) 2019/904, OJ L 155, 12.6.2019 p. 1.
(5)2019 Report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/report_implementation_circular_economy_action_plan.pdf

Last updated: 11 September 2019Legal notice