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oxo-bio has a role in the search for sustainability

Oxo-biogradable is inexpensive and can play a big part in a sustainable future according to Symphony Environment Technologies’ Michael Laurier

Over the next few years I see oxo-biodegradable technology playing a much more prominent role in the search for sustainability, as more people realise its potential for tackling the plastic waste problem.

The fundamental point is that d2w additive included at manufacture causes ordinary plastic to convert after its useful life by an abiotic process in the presence of oxygen into a material with a different molecular structure. It is not necessary for the material to be in moist or microbially-active conditions. At the end of that process it is no longer a plastic and has become a material which is inherently biodegradable in the same way as a leaf. Timescales for degradation can be set at manufacture as required, but they must necessarily be approximate.

Oxo-biodegradable plastic is easy and inexpensive to make and uses less carbon energy in its manufacture and transportation than other forms of packaging, such as paper or jute or cotton, or bio-based plastics.

Making ‘oxo-bio’ plastic does not involve raiding the world’s diminishing supply of arable land and clean water, as biofuels and bioplastics do. Being a short-life plastic with a predetermined lifespan in the open environment (the only plastic with this capability) oxo-bio will not linger around in the environment for ages, nor degrade into fragments of plastic which lie there for decades wildlife to swallow.

Oxo-bio plastic is usually made from naphtha, a by-product of oil-refining which used to be wasted, so not a single barrel of oil has ever been extracted to make plastic – it is extracted to make fuels. Oxobio has the same weight as ordinary plastic, though much lighter than bio-based plastic, and many times lighter than cotton, jute or reusable bags. It is thus much easier to transport and uses less fuel and causes less pollution and traffic-congestion.

Plastic is the supreme lightweight, durable packaging/carrying material, and is a wonder of modern technology. The plastic carrier bag is not a “single-use” bag and is often re-used for multiple purposes.

Given that plastic has become such a useful packaging material, all that was needed to make it environmentally acceptable was to introduce a type of plastic which could degrade completely, if dumped in the open environment. With the introduction of oxo-bio technology this has now happened and has been proved.

Oxo-bio’s credentials were still being challenged until recently, but numerous laboratory tests and a recent LCA study have proved its validity. This LCA by the international research consultancy, Intertek, released in May 2012, put the environmental credentials of oxo-bio way ahead of conventional and bio-based plastic.

Michael Laurier is chief executive of Symphony Environment Technologies.

Fonte – Packaging News de 05 de fevereiro de 2013

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