March 6, 2021

Additive That Makes Plastic Harmless Has Potential to Be Biodegrading Game-Changer


Branding itself as the only plastic that ‘truly’ biodegrades, a new materials company is manufacturing plastics that break down into harmless component elements in less than a year.

A special ingredient is added to the manufacturing stage of plastic to create completely normal forms of plastic that can be used to make both rigid or flexible products, allowing no great overhaul of production lines or schedules.

Seriously big companies are not waiting for extensive testing to begin adding Polymateria’s special biodegrading plastic to their operations, even though the UK firm has done tests that confirm their claims that after around 226 days, a harmless wax, edible by microbes, is the only thing that will remain of something like an ice-cream wrapper if left on the side of the road.

Polymateria Ltd was developed at Imperial College London and is chaired by former Marks & Spencer CEO Mark Bolland. The firm aims to tackle the plastic problem head on, with a plan to launch their products as soon as possible in Asia, and to target the two most common types of polluting plastic polymers, polyurethane and polypropylene.

Though designed to be recycled normally, a light breeze, a forgetful hand, or an irresponsible decision which normally can leave plastic loitering on the roadside or by dumping sites for years won’t affect Polymateria plastic: It will eventually turn to a waxy sludge that’s harmless to plants, animals, and river systems.

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One of the major advantages is that the plastic is turned into normal organic elements like carbon dioxide and oxygen, not merely more easily breaking down into microplastic granules that, while making it easier to recycle, causes oftentimes worse and harder to detect pollution effects in an ecosystem.

The sportswear brand Puma will be the first to incorporate Polymateria’s plastic, adding it to a whopping 160 million plastic bags according to The Sunday Times. Other brands haven’t been revealed but reports say that Polymateria is on shelves in the UK, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, and Kenya.

Niall Dunne, the company CEO, told National Geographic that they “are testing in India, and due to launch soon, and we are talking to manufacturers in China and the USA.”

Frederic de Mevius, dynasty part-owner of the Anheuser-Busch InBev global brewing conglomerate, is a director and investor in Polymateria, and told Sunday Times reporters that “Within two to five years we will be supplying 20 to 50 of the largest brands that are responsible for plastic pollution. “

The British Standards Institution has confirmed many of the company’s claims through working with Polymateria to develop a rigorous testing standard using a “weatherometer” to measure biotransformation of the materials in precise conditions of UV light, moisture, and more.

Any Polymateria products would come with a “recycle by” date, after which they would gradually return to nature.

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With the Pacific Garbage Patch recently recognized as a country, with its own citizenship, monarchy, currency, and passports, truly biodegradable plastic that won’t trouble the environment even if it isn’t recycled would, at anypoint, be a timely intervention.

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