The European Union has made a strong push toward sustainable practices with their latest Directive (EU) 2019/904.This new guideline reduces the consumption of single-use plastics and, by design, the negative impact such plastic waste has on our environment. However, the language of the initiative as it currently stands incorrectly defines “plastic” to potentially include recyclable, low-impact resources like paperboard.
As the voice for North American paperboard manufacturers, PPC has a greener future in mind, which is why we’ve signed this document soliciting an update to the EU’s definition of plastic to be truer to form.
Paperboard’s Distinction From Plastic
Paperboard is a natural polymer, which means it should not be included in the EU’s new directive.
The ECHA Guidance for monomers and polymers for the implementation of REACH April 2012, version 2.0 and Article 3(39) of REACH explain that natural polymers are the result of a polymerization process that has taken place in nature, independently of the extraction process. A non-chemically modified substance is defined under Article 3(40) of REACH as a substance whose chemical structure remains unchanged, even if it has undergone a chemical process or treatment, or a physical mineralogical transformation, for instance, to remove impurities.
In layman’s terms, even when treated, the chemical makeup of paperboard does not change. It can easily break down in the environment and be reused and repurposed, unlike plastic. The current language notes all chemically-affected polymers regardless of end results, which includes paperboard. However, since its chemical makeup does not actually change, unlike single-use plastics, it is sustainable and safe for our environment, therefore should be left out of these new regulations.
Visit paperbox.org to read the entire letter.