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Plastic Need Not Be a Problem For The Environment.

Plastic Need Not Be a Problem For The Environment.

Plastic is ubiquitous because it is incredibly versatile and useful.  It is in fact a miracle of chemical engineering, and there is nothing quite as good when it comes to protecting food and other goods from damage and contamination. It is much better than paper and cardboard, especially when wet.   https://www.biodeg.org/subjects-of-interest/paper-bags/  It is cheap to produce, it can be recycled if collected, and it has the best life cycle/environmental credentials when compared to all other packaging materials.

The downside of plastic is that it is very durable, so if it escapes collection and ends up in the environment as litter, it can be there for decades, and it breaks down quickly into microplastics.

However, when Symphony’s d2w is added to ordinary plastic, it converts at the end of its useful life into a material with a different molecular structure.   It is then no longer a plastic and is instead a substance which is biodegradable i.e. able to be used as a food source by fungi and bacteria on land  or sea.  The only requirement is oxygen. Once started it is an unstoppable, irreversible process which will continue until only CO2, water and humus remain.

Nobody has given any reason why the process, once begun, should stop before it is complete, but even if only 50% biodegraded that would be a lot better than conventional plastic, which would have created microplastics but not biodegraded at all.

I was very interested to see recently that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had said that “Pro-oxidant masterbatch could significantly reduce the persistence of plastic pollution without creating undesired by-products.” 

https://cfpub.epa.gov/si/si_public_record_Report.cfm?dirEntryId=353810&Lab=CESER   
I have also noticed an important statement from Tokyo University https://featured.japan-forward.com/japan2earth/2024/02/6099/  that “to mitigate future marine plastic pollution, we must use biodegradable plastics in products where leakage into the marine environment is unavoidable.”

It seems now that everyone is realising, all around the world, that making the plastic with d2w technology is the way to prevent plastic in the environment from creating microplastics and accumulating there for decades. See https://www.symphonyenvironmental.com/why-biodegradable/ 

D2w should therefore be part of the ESG programme for all companies everywhere in the world who use plastic.

D2w plastic is tested for biodegradability and non-toxicity according to industry standards ASTM D6954,  British Standard 8472, Mexican Standard NMXE-E-288-NYCE, Saudi Standard 2879/2016, UAE 5009/2009 and many others.

How does it work?
The d2w pro-degradant masterbatch is added to conventional polymer during manufacture, usually at only 1%.  The service life of the product can be decided at manufacture by selecting the right masterbatch from the d2w suite e.g. 3 – 5 years depending on the service-life required.  There is no need for specialist machinery, or workforce re-training. This is a drop-in technology and adds little or no extra cost.

The degradation process is initiated under normal environmental conditions when exposed to oxygen. and no special conditions are necessary.  Heat and light will accelerate the process, but are not essential. Degradation will continue even in dark, cold conditions.

Stage 1 - The catalytic effect of the d2w masterbatch quickly breaks down the long molecular chains and generates free-radicals.  The polymers then undergo oxidation and their molecular weight is reduced,

Stage 2 - The free-radicals combine with available oxygen atoms to create hydro-peroxides. The material is now hydrophilic and biodegradable.

Stage 3 – The resulting oligomers are consumed by microorganisms in the environment, and the biodegradation process creates harmless residues (CO2, H20 and biomass/humus).  See https://youtu.be/IGOkAL_QZ_8?si=K4VnAW8UO0M1NmDj There are no heavy-metals.

Scientific Studies

There have been very many studies over the past 40 years, most recently the Oxomar project, sponsored by the French National Agency for Research, which found that d2w 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.” https://www.biodeg.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Final-report-OXOMAR-10032021.pdf 

It is not and never will be possible to predict exactly how long this process will take in the real world, but it is not disputed by anyone that it will be many times faster than ordinary plastic under the same conditions in the open environment.  Queen Mary University say (at para. 2.3) up to 90 times faster. https://www.biodeg.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/QM-published-report-11.2.20-1.pdf 

Another study in 2022 found that plastic made with d2w technology is endocrine safe.  No effects were observed up to the maximum concentration of 100 mg C-L -1  which is substantially higher than is likely to be experienced by any creature in nature. 

Compostable Plastic

D2w plastic is very different from plastic advertised as compostable, which has to be collected and taken to an industrial composting facility, where high humidity and temperatures can be achieved.  The plastic converts into CO2 but not into compost or anything useful for the soil. It should not therefore be described as compostable.

Conclusion
It would be fantastic if all plastic litter were collected and disposed of responsibly, but no country in the world is able to achieve this, and some plastic will always escape into the open environment.

I have sometimes heard it said that biodegradable plastics encourage littering. There is no evidence of this, but in any event most of the litter escapes by accident. Insofar as it is deliberate I cannot imagine that the type of person who throws a plastic bag out of a car window would care whether it is biodegradable or not.  There is in any event no need to label it as biodegradable, because d2w plastic is intended to be used and disposed of in the same way as ordinary plastic. 

Plastic made with a d2w masterbatch allows manufacturers, shopkeepers and consumers to keep the best material for the job without the environmental impacts associated with ordinary plastic.

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