To tackle the pollution caused by non-degradable plastics made from fossil fuels, plastics made from renewable resources were developed and they have many benefits – reduced dependency for oil, reduced litter, compostable, etc. However, in comparison with the petroleum-based plastics, they have a clear set of limitations – very costly, disrupt the existing recycling stream, poor technical performance, reduced shelf life (Many plastics products are exposed to extreme thermal, mechanical conditions). Oxo-biodegradable plastics are always tagged with “Degradable but costly” in the market among the consumers.
Though the bioplastic industry leaders have made efforts to overcome some of these limitations, with innovations in technology and blending of resins, a new set of plastic products (Plastics with Additives) entered the market to co-exist with plastics and bioplastics and that claims to provide the answer for “Degradable and cheap” plastics.
What are these plastics with additives?
Today, there exist two types of plastic products that contain additives to help them degrade over a period of time. They are oxo-degradable and enzyme-degradable plastics. These additives/enzymes are added to conventional polymers like (PET,PE,PP, etc) and once they are disposed off in a favourable environment, the plastic starts to degrade. Wonder how? Here we try to explain you about these wonders in simple terms.
How Oxo-degradable plastics work?
- They are based on conventional plastics, like polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), to which additives, that should cause the plastic to degrade by a process initiated by oxygen and accelerated by light and/or heat, are added at the manufacture stage (Masterbatch Technology).
- The additives are typically metal salts of carboxylic acids or dithiocarbamates based on cobalt (Co), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn) or nickel (Ni), with Co being used more for packaging and Fe and Ni more for mulch film. Other transition metals like Cerium (Ce) have also been reported to exhibit strong pro-oxidative effects.
How conventional plastics work?
- Similar to oxo-degradable plastics, conventional plastics (Enzyme will work on all polymers other than Nylon (6,6)) can also be enriched with organic additives, resulting in so called “enzyme-mediated degradable” plastics.
- The degradation process is claimed not to be initiated by heat, UV light, mechanical stress or oxygen, but by the micro-organisms themselves.
- According to the producers of “enzyme-mediated degradable” additives, the organic additive, together with its carrier material (in most cases this is ethylene vinyl acetate), is consumed by the micro-organisms, during which these excrete acids and enzymes that should break down the plastic into materials that are easily consumed by microbes.
Key selling points for the plastics with additives
- They are cheaper when compared to bioplastics alternatives
- They will look andfeel like a conventional plastic and will not lose any of their original properties during their useful life.
- If an oxo-biodegradable plastic bag or packaging film find its way into the environment, it will not lie around for decades causing a visual intrusion, blocking water courses and endangering wildlife
- The time for degradation can be controlled, and the length of the service life can be decided by the commercial end-user
- No genetically modified ingredient
- They can be utilized in conventional plastic manufacturing technologies.
Oxo-biodegradable and enzyme degradable plastics cannot be considered as bioplastics as they neither “biodegradable” nor “compostable” under any standard test procedures. These additives merely enhance the rate of degradation of a conventional plastic like PET or PE when disposed of after its useful life.
Biodegradable plastic additive provided by Oxygreen plastics is the most cost affordable solution to enhance the biodegradation of your plastic product. Where does the environment stand on your priority list?
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