Category Archives: biodegradable materials

Newest developments in material science

Biodegradable medical mask in PP material developed in Poland

According to the polish mask manufacturer Adrianno Damianii, “The Biomask type II is a biodegradable medical mask type II, which has been developed, produced, and marketed by our company […] It’s made of the same materials as regular medical masks, but it is biodegradable, which is confirmed by the laboratory results. This has been successfully achieved as we added special additives mainly to polypropylene.”

“They do not affect the properties of materials used to manufacture the mask, but make them biodegradable. It applies to spunbond nonwovens, melt blown filter fleece, elastics, and a nasal insert. This probably means that we are the first company all over the world managed to introduce on the market a biodegradable mask, which simultaneously meets the strict requirements of EN14683 for type II. An accredited Eden Research Laboratory performed biodegradation tests according to the standard ASTM D5511 / ISO 15985. The study showed biodegradation at the level of 3.5% in 32 days! Based on the findings of this test, biodegradation is expected to amount to 85% within 2.5 years! At the same time, Eden Research Laboratory conducted tests on ordinary medical masks made without additives. The results showed biodegradation of 0% within 32 days. Furthermore, an accredited Eurofins laboratory carried out the research according to EN 14683 standard, which showed that the Biomask meets the requirements for medical mask type II”.


New manufacturing process uses embedded enzymes to biodegrade plastic

‘people are now prepared to move into biodegradable polymers for single-use plastics, but if it turns out that it creates more problems than it’s worth, then the policy might revert back,’ said ting xu, UC berkeley professor of materials science and engineering and of chemistry. ‘we are basically saying that we are on the right track. we can solve this continuing problem of single-use plastics not being biodegradable.’

‘it turns out that composting is not enough — people want to compost in their home without getting their hands dirty, they want to compost in water,’ xu continued. ‘so, that is what we tried to see. we used warm tap water. just warm it up to the right temperature, then put it in, and we see in a few days it disappears.’

xu believes that programmed degradation could be the key to recycling many objects. ‘imagine using biodegradable glue to assemble computer circuits or even entire phones or electronics, then, when you’re done with them, dissolving the glue so that the devices fall apart and all the pieces can be reused.’

Via designboom 

BioSphere Plastic LLC proprietary additive, when added to normal resins, can encourage the biodegradation of the plastic material

As stated in the biosphere press release:

“Current culture is lead to believe that plastic is not biodegradable. This is incorrect. All plastic is organic in nature and has been proven to biodegrade by microorganisms by several differant groups, some of them being high school students in Canada and Ben Gurion University scientists in Israel. This information has paved the way for BioSphere to bring to market the following technology and become a rapidly growing worldwide used technology.
The BioSphere technology allows microorganisms to produce CO2 and CH4,
both of these are the result of the consumption of the plastic. When microorganisms consume anything aerobically or anaerobically these two gases are produced. Anaerobic biodegradation produces CH4 and Aerobic biodegradation produces CO2. The BioSphere technology allows the microbes to consume the plastic product in all active microbial environments.

The Science:
BioSphere Plastic LLC technology is built on the fundamental properties of building polymers and depolymerization.
In the molecular world, the small subunits that ultimately link together to form larger molecules are called monomers, which literally means “single unit” (mono = one). When a bunch of monomers join together into a much larger molecule, they form a polymer, meaning “many units” (poly = many).
How does this “linking together” happen? There is a process by which this joining usually occurs, called dehydration synthesis. Two monomers line up next to each other, a hydrogen (H) from one monomer binds with a hydroxyl group (OH) from another monomer, and voilà! A water molecule is born: H+ + OH- = H2O.
During dehydration synthesis, two subunits, or monomers, bind to each other where they were once bound to their respective hydrogen (–H) or hydroxyl (–OH) groups.
This blissful union is presided over by an enzyme that is mainly there to help speed things along. The name of the process is dehydration synthesis because monomers are literally coming together and synthesizing a polymer by dehydrating, or removing a water molecule.
This is how a polymer is formed. How a polymer is hydrolyzed is the basis of our technology.
This is done by the addition of water between the bonds. Now the question that people wonder is how we do just that.
Anytime you allow water to attack the bonds between polymers this allows for hydrolyzing of the bonds which in turn lowers the molecular weight of the product. The addition of BioSphere additive introductes key elements into the polymer structure which allow hydrolyzation of the polymer.
Microbes produce enzymes, these enzymes are part of the organic cycle which produce reactions. Reactions by enzymes which are produced only by microorganisms create catalysts which are formed by gram-negative and grampositive bacteria. The catalysts accelerate metabolic reactions. The metabolic reaction we use (even though there are multiple metabolic pathways in this reaction) is the carbohydrate metabolism.
We boost the ATP to carry more energy back to the pyruvic acid (Anaerobic) or the Acetyl CoA(Aerobic) cycles. This in turn creates proteins or lipids from the Pyruvic Acid cycle (Anaerobic) and acetyl CoA cycle(Aerobic).
This process created by microorganisms does not occur on the shelf, nor does it occur when water is in contact with the plastic. This reaction of microorganisms only occurs when the product is placed in an active microbial environment. BioSphere additive attracts over 600 differant types of microbes to consume the polymer. The enzymes that the microbes produce react with the BioSphere addtiive creating a catalyst that breaks down the molecular weight of the polymer making it easier for microorganisms to consume the plastic. This is called biodegradation.”

Using Anaerobic Bacteria for Plastic Biodegradation

“Recent success in reducing carrier bag (PE) and drinks bottles (PET) waste in Europe suggests lifestyle adjustments are possible, but plastic is ingrained in modern society and a future free from plastic seems unlikely. Complete alteration of human behaviour is difficult to attain, as indicated by the fact that only 9% of plastic waste is recycled3. Therefore in addition to these three solutions to the plastic waste problem (reducing, reusing and recycling), we need a fundamental change in order to make a noticeable impact on the plastic waste seeping into our environment. A new plastic future in which biodegradable polymers replace conventional plastics could be the answer.”

Some bacteria think plastic is fantastic
Bacteria isolated from outside a bottle-recycling facility can break down and metabolize plastic. The proliferation of plastics in consumer products, from bottles to clothing, has resulted in the release of countless tons of plastics into the environment.
Yoshida et al. show how the biodegradation of plastics by specialized bacteria could be a viable bioremediation strategy (see the Perspective by Bornscheuer).
The new species. Ideonella sakaiensis, breaks down the plastic by using two
enzymes to hydrolyze PET and a primary reaction intermediate, eventually yielding basic building blocks for growth.”

Source: Science. p. 1196: See also p. 1154 – Bacteria found near a plastics recycling plant can degrade plastic


Thanks for the sources

PTE Bio-plastic could be the way to sustainable plastic

ReverteTM  is an oxo-biodegradable additive which is added directly into the film manufacturing process to standard PE, PP & PET to impart this property, with almost no physical impact on the processing of the polymer.”

Oxo-Biodegradable polymers

“These polymers undergo controlled degradation through the incorporation of a ‘prodegradant’ additive (an additive that can trigger and accelerate the degradation process). These polymers undergo accelerated oxidative defined degradation initiated by natural daylight, heat and/or mechanical stress, and embrittle in the environment and erode under the influence of weathering.Reverte™ produces a plastic product with equivalent performance characteristics than the present non-degradables, is cost competitive and results in a product will totally and harmlessly disintegrate in multiple environments, commencing at a predetermined time.”


Indianes footwear developed a shoe made with biodegradable banana fibers

 “The vision of INDIANES is that banana fiber is the solution to the environmental crisis caused by the textile and fashion industry. Banana fiber was used for centuries by Colombian communities and does not require any water or extension of land for cultivation, since it is obtained from the residues of banana agriculture.”

Great article on biopolymers

This article by Anne Marie Mohan, senior editor at shows every advancement made on biopolymers applied on the packaging industry.

The industrial sector is at its beginnings but huge players such as PepsiCo are partnering with companies active on developing new bopolymers, which are seen as a natural evolution of the actual plastic industry.

New kinds of manufacturing byproducts are being used to produce biopolymers.

Mixed with traditional plastics, these materials not only reduce drastically the carbon footprint of the products on which are applied, but can offer superior  properties.

PEF, a bio-based potential substitute for PET

Using a plant-derived solvent called GVL (gamma-Valerolactone), University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering James Dumesic and his team have developed an economical and high-yielding way of producing furandicarboxylic acid, or FDCA. One of 12 chemicals the U.S. Department of Energy calls critical to forging a “green” chemical industry, FDCA is a necessary precursor to a renewable plastic called PEF (or polyethylene furanoate) as well as to a number of polyesters and polyurethanes.

“Until now, FDCA has had a very low solubility in practically any solvent you make it in,” says Ali Hussain Motagamwala, a UW-Madison graduate student in chemical and biological engineering and co-author of the study. “You have to use a lot of solvent to get a small amount of FDCA, and you end up with high separation costs and undesirable waste products.”

Motagamwala and colleagues’ new process begins with fructose, which they convert in a two-step process to FDCA in a solvent system composed of one part GVL and one part water. The end result is a high yield of FDCA that easily separates from the solvent as a white powder upon cooling.

The team’s techno-economic analysis suggests that the process could currently produce FDCA at a minimum selling price of $1,490 per ton. With improvements, including lowering the cost of feedstock and reducing the reaction time, the price could reach $1,310 per ton, which would make their FDCA cost-competitive with some fossil fuel-derived plastic precursors.

“We think this is the streamlined and inexpensive approach to making FDCA that many people in the plastics industry have been waiting for,” says Dumesic. “Our hope is that this research opens the door even further to cost-competitive renewable plastics.”

A crystal of furandicarboxylic acid, or FDCA, a plastic precursor created with biomass instead of petroleum.
Credit: UW–Madison image by Ali Hussain Motagamwala and James Runde