Norfolk Bio-Products Firm Set To Be Hit by Single-Use Plastics Ban

A company that makes biodegradable products says it may have to leave the UK because of an upcoming government ban on single-use plastics.

Solinatra, based near Norwich, makes compostable single-use alternatives – but they are included in the ban.

The firm received a £500,000 government grant last year.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said all ‘bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics’ would be banned.

The ban comes into force in October, spearheaded by Environment Secretary and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey.

Solinatra said its products, such as coffee pods and cutlery, were made from plant-derived materials, rather than fossil fuel-derived materials.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is now calling for a review.

Co-founder Simon Girdlestone says single-use products made by Solinatra will fall foul of the October ban – despite being plant-based

Simon Girdlestone, a co-founder of Solinatra, said the upcoming legislation “doesn’t make sense“.

We were expecting a ban on single-use plastics – it’s the whole reason we were developing Solinatra,” he told the BBC. “What we didn’t expect is that we would be caught up and be banned along with fossil-based plastics. We’ve developed a solution that is clean, that is naturally biodegradable, and yet Defra has decided to group us along with the polluting plastics.

He said the company, which is based at Horsham St Faith, “had to go through a very long process” to win the £500,000 government funding – through Innovate UK – to develop the very materials that will be banned.

The future for the company will probably be outside the UK,” Mr Girdlestone added. “It is a missed opportunity for Norfolk and for the UK, to create jobs and create an export market.

Candy Richards, development manager at the FSB, said the federation would call on the government to review the inclusion of biomaterials in the October law. “Now the clock is ticking with this ban,” she said. “We are urging the government to engage with organisations like Solinatra so they understand that they are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The government needs to show its commitment to being at the forefront of sustainable and green technology.

She said another FSB member – a company in Wales that produces similar products based on algae – was offered large financial incentives to relocate to Canada.

The single-use items, including cutlery, are entirely plant-based and compostable

A spokesman for Defra said: “Urgent action is required to stop plastic waste finding its way into the natural environment.

We have already banned many commonly littered single-use plastic items and are introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, as well as extended producer responsibility for packaging.

The department said a consultation on the ban agreed it should cover ‘all bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics’.

Original article from the BBC written by By Ian Barmer & Orla Moore

Read more about the single-use plastics ban here.

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