Degradable or unstable polymers

Last update 23 March 2017

A PLC must be a stable polymer.

A polymer is not eligible to be a PLC if it is designed or reasonably anticipated to degrade, decompose or depolymerise substantially. This includes polymers that could substantially decompose after manufacture and use, even though they are not intended to do so.

For the purposes of the Act, and this guidance, this definition applies:

Degradation, decomposition or depolymerisation means a type of chemical change in which a polymeric substance breaks down into simpler, smaller weight substances as the result, for example, of oxidation, hydrolysis, heat, sunlight, attack by solvents or microbial action.

Reasonably anticipated - see definition.

Substantially means 'considerably', 'meaningfully' or 'to a significantly large extent'. It is not intended to include the slow, natural biodegradation that occurs during, say, the weathering of paint.

Examples of polymers that would not meet this criterion include those that:

  • are designed to be pyrolysed or burnt during normal use
  • are explosive
  • substantially biodegrade in the environment (for example, starch).