Diamant to test biodegradability of plastic additive

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Polyethylene terephthalate, Diamant

Diamant is teaming up with leading bottling companies in North America to carry out further tests on the use of its oxo biodegradation technology in the manufacture of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles.

The company said that its iron-based additive helps to break down the plastic material, leaving only water, carbon dioxide and environmentally safe biomass. Initial results from research undertaken in Europe on Diamant's proprietary additive have indicated that it will work to degrade plastic bottles. The company now wants to test the additive's integration suitability for North American plastic bottling manufacturing systems; if it proves compatible the company said it will seek Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to develop a commercial product. The identity of Diamant's industry testing partners has not been disclosed but regulatory and consumer pressure to reduce the impact of packaging waste has been forcing processors to seek more environmentally-friendly alternatives. Diamant said that rendering PET plastic bottles biodegradable would contribute to solving the plastic waste problem in the US and provide companies with an effective and economical way of disposing of single plastic products. PET plastic containers are now being used to package a range of shelf-stable products, including salsas, barbecue sauces and jams as well as bottled beverages such as sodas and water. Positive Findings"We have had tested the 2 per cent additive in numerous types of polyolefin based polymers. The bio-degradation phase has been scientifically proven to occur by reputable polymer scientists; however, the exact period for the bio-degradation to occur cannot be defined precisely,"​ said Diamant. The company claims that its proprietary additive, though it acts as a catalyst to promote degradation, will not compromise performance while the material is used as a package: "The material will initially 'oxo-degrade', break down in the presence of air (oxygen). The major triggers for this degradation will be direct/indirect UV Light, thermal heat and to a lesser extent mechanical stress or pressure."Impact on recycling systems​ According to the company, oxo-biodegradable products, because they are based on conventional plastics, are compatible with existing recycle streams, as was shown in a recent study: "Following extensive testing in Scandinavia with one of the major plastics recycling operations, it was determined that the polyolefin materials which contain our degradable (iron-based additive) may be safely recycled with little 'follow on effect' in the resultant recycled polymer."​ Industry expert and former manager of the Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics Institute (OPI), Lee Doty, told FoodProductionDaily.com: "Oxo-biodegradable products have physical properties virtually identical to conventional plastics and are also considerably less expensive than their hydro-biodegradable (starch-based) counterparts, often by a factor of 2-3 times or more."Composting​ The only standard specifications (standards with pass/fail requirements) that are currently available for degradable and biodegradable plastics are for their performance in managed (as opposed to household) compost operations. "There are no commercially available oxo-biodegradable products of which I am aware that meet this specification, although some oxo-biodegradable films have been shown to compost well and to make good quality composts,"​ added Doty. There are a number of providers of oxo-biodegradable technology and additives on the global marketplace. The predominant use for these materials at present is for carrier bags. However, manufacturers have also successfully applied the technology to bread bags, frozen food bags and meat trays.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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