Marine Biodegradation proved beyond doubt
Single-use plastic is now used more than ever before for Personal Protective Equipment, food packaging and for other applications to protect us from microbial attack, and plastic is the only material which can itself be made anti-microbial at reasonable cost – using a technology known as d2p developed by Symphony Environmental.
However, no matter how much governments promote re-use and recycling, some of the plastic will always get into the open environment where it disintegrates into microplastics and can lie or float around for decades. This is what has generated monumental public concern about plastic, especially in the oceans, and has created plastiphobia, leading to an outright ban in some countries.
So, what if it were possible to make plastic so that it biodegrades at the end of its useful life if it gets into the oceans, leaving no toxicity? This has now been proved beyond doubt by scientists at the Laboratoire d’Océanographie Microbienne (LOMIC) in a four-year study sponsored by the French government.
The purpose of the ANR-OXOMAR project is to investigate whether oxo-biodegradable plastic made with d2w masterbatch technology will fully biodegrade in a reasonable time in the marine environment, and whether biodegradable plastic or its by-products create any toxicity in the marine environment. It involved the complementary expertise of four independent laboratories (CNEP, LOMIC, ICCF, and IFREMER).
A summary of the results, dated 4th September 2020, says:
“We have obtained congruent results from our multidisciplinary approach that clearly shows that d2w biodegradable plastics biodegrade in seawater and do so with a significantly higher efficiency than conventional plastics. The oxidation level obtained due to the d2w prodegradant catalyst was found to be of crucial importance in the degradation process. Out of the six-formulations tested, the Mn/Fe pro-oxidant was the most efficient, with no toxic effects under our experimental conditions. Biodegradability was demonstrated either by using the culture bacteria Rhodococcus rhodochrous or by a complex natural marine community of microorganisms.”
Perhaps it is now time for all short-life plastic products to be made with this technology.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL OXOMAR REPORT in French and English
Evidence is available – from tests done in real time at Bandol on the coast of France that plastic made with d2w will degrade to low molecular-weight materials under natural conditions in water. Samples aged under those conditions were studied at Queen Mary University London Microbial Degradation of Plastic in Aqueous Solutions Demonstrated by CO2 Evolution and Quantification where the abiotically degraded plastic was the only source of carbon available to the bacteria. The samples were proved to be biodegraded by bacteria commonly found in the oceans, and separate samples were biodegraded by bacteria commonly found on land. The degraded plastic was also proved to be non-toxic to those bacteria.
A report has been published by researchers who are marine biologists – not polymer scientists. For the OPA response to this report see opa-comments-on-plymouth-10