Symphony Environmental Technologies Plc (AIM:SYM), a global specialist in technologies that “make plastics smarter”, makes the following statement on the coverage of its d2w plastic technology on the BBC news yesterday (19 July).
The Company’s Chief Executive, Michael Laurier, said:
“Nearly all previous media coverage has been about the problem of plastic in the open environment, rather than the solution. Whilst the BBC’s coverage did not, in our opinion, fairly present the scientifically proven benefit of oxo-biodegradable technology, we are pleased that the BBC has now focused on the solution, and introduced our Company and our d2w technology to a much wider audience.
“All plastics will fragment when exposed in the open environment, but the problem with ordinary plastics is that their fragments will lie or float around for decades before becoming biodegradable, and will persist and accumulate as a problem for future generations. During that time, they break down into microplastics and may attract and carry toxins.
“Symphony’s d2w technology was invented to accelerate the degradation process and reduce the dwell-time of plastic in the environment, by adding a catalyst which promotes oxidation and converts the plastic into biodegradable materials. It is essential to understand that it does not just create fragments. d2w plastic can be recycled if collected but degradation followed by biodegradation is there to protect the environment if all else fails.
“It is legitimate for the BBC reporter to question whether d2w technology actually works. To answer that question for ourselves and our customers we have commissioned scientific tests over more than 20 years so as to be quite sure that we would not be making misleading claims.
“Based on this evidence a d2w plastic product will become biodegradable if exposed to oxygen on land or sea much more quickly than ordinary plastic.
“These tests included successful exposure in seawater at the Bandol laboratory in France, and subsequent testing at Queen Mary University, London. We were therefore surprised when Richard Thompson of Plymouth University produced a bag which he claimed had failed to degrade. Mr. Thompson is not a polymer scientist, and we were given no opportunity before the broadcast to investigate his claim.
Fairer coverage of oxo-biodegradable plastics from BBC News
“As previously reported by Symphony it is correct that the EU Chemicals Agency (“ECHA”) is studying “oxo-degradable” plastic at the request of the EU Commission. We welcome this, and have submitted detailed evidence to ECHA that “oxo-degradable” plastic is not the same as “oxo-biodegradable” plastic and that d2w plastic will fully biodegrade within a reasonable time and much more quickly than ordinary plastic into non-plastic biodegradable materials that will themselves naturally biodegrade in a similar way to a leaf.
“The programme showed d2w plastic products being used in the Ivory Coast, where the government is concerned that plastic litter which gets into the environment should not lie or float around for decades. They, like several other governments across the world, are encouraging the use of d2w. Plastic is essential to the people of the Ivory Coast for protecting their food and water from contamination. A plastic ban could cause an epidemic and is most unlikely, therefore an alternate solution such as d2w is required.
“We hope that the item on BBC news yesterday is the beginning of an open and honest debate about innovative solutions such as d2w. It is time to stop talking about the problem, and to focus on the solutions, for which d2w is one of a suite of Symphony’s technologies that we encourage governments and corporates to adopt.”