Australia's top plastics industry trade association has welcomed moves by the nation's federal and state governments to expand the range of industry standards for degradable and biodegradable plastics.
Australia's environment ministers have endorsed the development of new national standards that they said will provide environmental benefits and greater certainty for industry and consumers.
According to Margaret Donnan, chief executive officer of the Melbourne-based Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association, it is very important that consumers, government and industry have access to clear, reliable and consistent information on degradable plastics.
``Degradable plastics design and manufacturing are exciting growth segments for the Australian plastics industry,'' Donnan said. ``They can offer greater flexibility in designing environmentally sustainable products, suited to particular applications, which degrade in the right place, at the right time and in the right end-environment.''
She said the plastics and chemicals industries are committed to working closely with the Australian government to develop nationally consistent Australian standards for degradable plastics.
``It is vitally important that consumers, government and industry have access to clear, reliable and consistent information regarding degradable plastics,'' she said.
A spokesman for the national industry benchmarking and accreditation authority, Sydney-based Standards Australia Ltd., said there are currently three industry standards on degradable plastics, including one applicable to plastics suitable for composting and three covering methods for testing degradability.
SAL is working on four new standards for testing degradability: ultraviolet light exposure, oxidation, additives and biodegradability.
The new standards are expected to be released progressively. The first was to be published before the end of 2008.
Donnan said PACIA already published an industry guide, ``Using Degradable Plastics in Australia,'' which was developed in partnership with Australia's Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.