The use of oxo-biodegradable additives has been controversial. Recyclers are concerned that if these plastics enter the recycling stream, products made with recycled content will fall apart when the plastic degrades.  Farmers wonder if plastic with oxo-additives will degrade when promised, neither before (allowing weeds to grow through degraded mulch film, for example) nor after (getting tangled in equipment when planting the next crop). Information and links are given here to better inform the debate, and the choices made by growers who purchase plastic, by recyclers who handle it after it has been used, and by an industry in process of expanding its reach.

Table of Contents
Industry perspective
Association of Plastics Recyclers perspective

Industry perspective


 The Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics Federation (OBPF) arrived on the stage February 1, 2016, with the announcement that it had formed as international industry coalition.  For information, contact Chairman Dr Gary Ogden garyogden@wellsplastics.com. Founding members are said to include five of the six largest oxo-biodegradable manufacturers around the world:

  • Add-X Biotech, an additive maker with headquarters in Sweden.
  • EKMDevelopments based in Germany.
  • EPI, which makes and sells Totally Degradable Plastic Additives (TDPA®) to manufacturers of finished plastic products in the packaging, agricultural and composting industries. Based in Canada with branch offices in the US and UK.
  • Wells Plastics Ltd is developer, owner and manufacturer of Reverte oxo-biodegradable technology and trademarks, based in Stone, England.
  • Willow Ridge Plastics Inc. in Erlanger, Ky., maker of primarily PP and PE additives for composting, packaging, plastic bags and film.


Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR) perspective

In keeping with their Protecting Against Degradable Additives initiative, APR “continued its role as a voice of responsibility in the debate about the presence of degradable additives in recycled plastic. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission decision refuting claims by oxo-degradable manufacturers was appealed to an administrative judge, who stayed the decision. APR will continue to support the legal process challenging the FTC arguments on the impact of the additives on recycling. Despite what the FTC outlined in their final guidelines, marketing claims regarding the so-called recyclability of these additives remain ever present and growing in the marketplace.

“APR continues to develop and refine its test protocols and is prepared to give rigorous critique to claims made about recyclability of plastics with degradable additives included. We see no solid waste management benefit from the additives and many negatives to their use.”

In a related initiative APR has been working for the past several years “to bring the mislabeling of bottles on California store shelves to the attention of the Attorney General. Bottles labeled “recyclable and degradable” have proven to be of particular concern. In October 2011, the Attorney General announced it was filing suit against those companies marketing their bottles as degradable, in violation of California law. In 2013, we worked to provide additional resources to allow the Attorney General to continue similar action against those bottles that continue to violate the law. In recent years, cases continue to be brought before the Attorney General for action. Cases determined to violate the statute result in a cease and desist order being implemented against the company to remove containers that were mislabeled. This will be an ongoing effort, and we will continue to work with the AG’s office to ensure compliance in the marketplace over the long haul.”