Marking itself the only plastic that “truly” biodegrades, a new materials company is making plastics that break down into harmless components in less than a year.
A special ingredient is added to the plastic manufacturing stage to create completely normal plastic shapes that can be used to make rigid or flexible products, which does not allow for a large overhaul of production lines or schedules.
Seriously, large companies are not waiting for extensive testing to start adding Polymateria’s specialty biodegradable plastic to their operations, despite the UK firm having conducted tests confirming its claims that after around 226 days, a harmless wax, edible by microbes, is the only thing. It will remain of something like an ice cream wrapper if it is 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 its products as soon as possible in Asia and target the two most common types of polluting plastic polymers, polyurethane and polypropylene.
Although it is designed to be recycled normally, a light breeze, a forgetful hand, or an irresponsible decision that can normally leave plastic lurking on the side of the road or in landfills for years will not affect Polymateria plastic: it will eventually turn into a waxy sludge that it is harmless to plants, animals and river systems.
One of the main advantages is that plastic is converted to normal organic elements such as carbon dioxide and oxygen, and not only breaks down more easily into microplastic granules which, while making it easier to recycle, often cause worst and most difficult to detect pollution effects in an ecosystem.
Sportswear brand Puma will be the first to incorporate Polymateria plastic, adding it to a whopping 160 million plastic bags according to The Sunday Times. No other brands have been revealed, but reports say Polymateria is on shelves in the UK, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan and Kenya.
Niall Dunne, CEO of the company, saying National Geographic that “they are testing in India, and will be released soon, and we are talking with manufacturers in China and the US.”
Frederic de Mevius, co-owner of the dynasty of global brewing conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev, is a director and investor in Polymateria, telling Sunday Times reporters that “within two to five years we will supply 20 to 50 of the biggest brands who are responsible for plastic pollution. “
The British Standards Institution has confirmed many of the company’s claims by working with Polymateria to develop a rigorous test standard using a “meteorometer” to measure the biotransformation of materials under precise conditions of UV light, humidity and more.
All Polymateria products would come with a “recycle” date, after which they would gradually return to nature.
With the Pacific Garbage Patch recently recognized as a country, with its own citizenship, monarchy, currency and passports, truly biodegradable plastic that will not affect the environment even if it is not recycled would be, at any time, a timely intervention.
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