Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A New Additive to Make Polyethylene Biodegradable

Plastemart is reporting that a London based company has developed
"...Enzymoplast, which the firm says consists of proteins and enzymes that break down polyethylene "in a natural way". Enzymoplast triggers a decomposition process when plastic bags containing the additive come into contact with microorganisms. The microorganisms first devour the proteins, which breaks the polymer chain. It also activates the enzymes, which act as a catalyst and accelerate the process. After a few months only water and CO2 remain..."

While this sounds like a good idea, I question if we really want a degradation promoter in polyethylene films. If it is ever used, the films should be clearly labeled that they contain the promoter and that the these films should not be recycled. If they were to enter the recycling loop, the results could be rather unhappy, since as I discussed last week, many plastics become durable goods after being recycled. That durability could be threatened with such an additive.

And as I have mentioned before, it may seem like a nice idea to think that a polyethylene bag is going to completely degrade to inorganic materials, but that still will not reduce the immediate eyesore of pollution. The bag may completely disappear in 2 months, but it is going to be visible most of that time and people are going to continue to rant against single-use plastic bags and other uses of polyethylene film

Considering that 90% of the US population lives within 10 miles of a plastic film recycling facility, the need for this innovation is rather dubious.


veterinary syringes said...

Oh, this sounds a pretty good idea. Thanks for the great info.

Anonymous said...

thank you for your opinion, but in fact i found this article also written in german. In the other article is written, that as it is polyethylene you also can recycle it. the enzymes will die after "second loop". and you will never avoid that people through away this shit plastic bags. So I think this technology is quiet useful