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Pollution from plastic waste – both consumer and industrial – has become an increased environmental concern in recent years. Polymateria, a biodegradable plastic company, is spearheading plastic pollution solutions that may change this harmful situation for good.
We Need Plastic Pollution Solutions Now
Scientists have warned that there will be four billion tonnes of plastic pollution in the ocean and on land by 2050 if drastic changes are not taken now.
Contemporary civilization creates enormous amounts of waste plastics, which usually will not break down and degrade for hundreds of years. These end up in landfill sites, taking up space and releasing harmful chemicals into local ecosystems. They also often end up in the ocean, either as micro- or macro-plastic waste, which kill wildlife and other organisms and cause often irreversible harm to delicate ecosystems.
While many efforts have been made to ensure plastic packaging and materials can be recycled – and local authorities and waste management companies work to ensure they can recycle these materials effectively – it is estimated that 32% of all plastic packaging is currently not recycled or correctly disposed of worldwide.
Video Credit: WWF International/YouTube.com
Biodegradable Plastic Company Providing Plastic Pollution Solutions
Polymateria is a UK materials company which has been spun off from – and remains based at – Imperial College London. The company is creating biodegradable plastic materials to combat the problems with plastic pollution in the ocean and on land.
With a mission to use science to help natural processes deal with plastic pollution, Polymateria combines recycling and biodegradability in the formulation of new biodegradable plastic materials.
Plastic pollution is a major global environmental crisis and more innovation and collaboration is needed if we are serious about solving this problem. Polymateria’s Biotransformation technology uniquely brings recycling together with biodegradability, fusing the mechanical and natural cycles to create a truly circular economy. We need materials to be recycled as a matter of priority but also leave no environmental harm should they find their way into the natural environment.”
Niall Dunne, CEO of Polymateria
New Biodegradable Plastic
Polymateria demonstrated a newly formulated polyethylene film in February 2021. In a world-first, the material is recyclable and biodegradable in the open environment.
Open air biodegradability is time controlled with a careful formulation of chemicals in the plastic material. This means that, if correctly disposed of and recycled, products made from biodegradable plastic can still be recycled before degradation takes place.
If, as is often the case, products made of this biodegradable plastic are not recycled or disposed of correctly, they will still return to the natural environment quickly and safely. Depending on the application, the plastic can degrade in as little as six to twelve months, as opposed to the hundreds or even thousands of years that conventional plastic materials can take to degrade in nature.
Users of the new biodegradable plastic can now also rely on independent testing to verify Polymateria’s biodegradability claims. The new BSI PAS 9017 standard from the British Standards Institutions uses a “pass/fail” test to independently verify claims for products’ biodegradability. Polymateria’s new material achieves this standard.
The latest breakthrough is an example of biotransformation technology. This is a new approach to the plastic pollution problem which focuses on biodegradability at the same time as recyclability in materials formulation and design. It can help to close the gap caused by reliance on correct consumer behavior to meet pollution, waste, and recycling targets.
Understanding how Polymateria's technology works.
Video Credit: Polymateria You Tube/YouTube.com
Biodegradable Plastic Company Partners with Global Electric Vehicle Racing Series
Polymateria has recently announced a partnership with a new, global racing event that aims to raise awareness for environmental causes.
The Extreme E series of electric vehicle races, due to start in Saudi Arabia in April 2021, takes place in locations that have been damaged or affected by climate change and environmental problems such as plastic pollution.
Science-Based Plastic Pollution Solutions are the Answer
The partnership between Polymateria and Extreme E will help to create more market and investor confidence in biotransformation technology – biodegradable plastics which can also be recycled. This is key to Polymateria’s mission to bring science to bear on environmental problems, giving nature as much help as possible to recover from environmental harm.
Together with Extreme E, we are bringing peer reviewed science to life so that people can see what is possible and make their voices heard in demanding better innovation, meaningful change and an end to the fugitive plastic crisis.”
References and Further Reading
Bliss, Dominic (2020). “A 'self-destructing' plastic has helped define a new British Standard for biodegradability.” National Geographic. [Online.] https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/2020/11/new-self-destructing-plastic-has-helped-define-a-new-british.
Evanson, Deborah (2021). “World’s first biodegradable and recyclable plastic developed at White City.” Imperial College London. [Online.] https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/215813/worlds-first-biodegradable-recyclable-plastic-developed/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=dcbce927-dc1e-47ee-a69b-70ce1893a9c7&utm_campaign=news.
“Extreme E Joins Forces with Polymateria to Tackle Global Plastic Pollution.” (2021.) Business Wire. [Online.] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210317005872/en/.