§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what measures the Government have taken to encourage the use of(a) biodegradable starch-base plastics and (b) other starch-based products in place of petrochemicals 
§ Mr. Meale
[holding answer 19 July 1999]: A fully biodegradable product can offer significant environmental benefits, for example where it can be composted or reused in another form. A particular type of degradable product, "inherently degradable resins" (starch mixed with polyethylene), was developed in the latter part of the 1980s. Although marketed as biodegradable, research has suggested otherwise. The micro-organisms consumed the starch, leaving the polyethylene intact.
Our recent consultation paper, "Less Waste: More Value", emphasised the need to gain more value from waste through re-use, recycling, composting and recovery of energy. Products which are specifically designed for disposal with no beneficial recovery potential run counter to this approach.