Polymateria’s revolutionary Biotransformation technology is a new approach to ensuring that plastic which has escaped refuse streams can fully biodegrade in the natural environment.

Our scientists have created a proprietary formulation for plastics that
makes it possible.

 How it works

Achieving full biodegradation without harming recycling and enabling the circular economy

Phase 1

Product service life

During the service life of the packaging, the technology is dormant. The packaging retains all its functionalities. Adjustable onset to support the circular economy and to give recycling every chance to happen where available.

Phase 1 – Product service life determination:
  • Accelerated thermal aging as per ISO 2578 / ASTM D3045.
  • Arrhenius equation used to estimate service life depending on average temperature of geographical territory/territories of interest.
  • Tested against RecyClass Recyclability Evaluation Protocol showing no adverse impact to recycling.

See the evidence of the technology in action

Phase 2

Weathering

Upon activation of the technology, the chemical conversion causes a rapid loss of physical properties. Greater surface area exposed during this process aids greater chemical transformation towards a bioavailable wax. The technology attacks the crystalline and amorphous region of the polymer structure, rapidly turning it into a wax-like material that is no longer a plastic and is not harmful to the environment.

Phase 2 – Weathering
  • UV (film) or Xenon-arc (rigid) of plastic products for a defined short period of time representing (through calculation) to be no more than 4 months corresponding to South Florida conditions.
  • Standards used for UV weathering are ASTM D4329 / ISO 4892-3. Standards used for Xenon-arc weathering are ASTM D2565 / ISO 4892-2.
Stage Gate 1 – Criteria for attainment of a bioavailable wax:
Stage Gate 2 – Environmental Safety:

Bioavailable waxes formed as a result of the chemical conversion are tested for their biosecurity in multiple types of environmental ecosystems. The waxes are tested for their acute and chronic eco-toxicity in soil and water environments. Proof that both polyethylene and polypropylene waxes are non-harmful to organisms in these habitats has been demonstrated through meeting the validity criteria of the following OECD tests:

Acute / Short term exposure to waxChronic / Long term exposure to wax
OECD 202
OECD 207
OECD 236
OECD 208
OECD 211
OECD 220 / ISO EN 17512
OECD 222

If a wax is produced from a group of plastic resins or the resin contains additional pigments or components, for which we do not have valid testing data, we re-run selected OECD tests to ensure that the waxes are always environmentally non-harmful.

See the evidence of the technology in action

Phase 3

Biodegradation in the natural environment of bioavailable waxes

The bioavailable wax is biologically transformed through mineralization by naturally occurring bacteria and fungi in the natural environment and under mesophilic/ambient temperature conditions. PE and PP films and rigids fully biodegrade within 1–2 years as verified by 3rdparty labs, leaving no microplastics behind.

Phase 3 –Biodegradation on soil under mesophilic conditions

The biodegradation testing is performed as per international standards of ASTM D5988 and ISO 17556. The test, as with compostable plastics, shows the conversion of carbon in the test material (the bioavailable wax) to carbon in carbon dioxide.

Stage Gate 3 –Biodegradation:

The internationally accepted level required to show complete biodegradation is the attainment of a % biodegradation of greater than 90%. The remaining material is converted to water and biomass.

See the evidence of the technology in action

How it is deployed

Formulated as a Bespoke Masterbatch.

Each Bespoke Masterbatch is tailored to the resin’s footprint, application profile and required use life. Compatible with the normal plastic conversion processes.

Typical loading rate: 2% weight percentage (wt%).

Polymateria are proud to support the launch of a new standard with the BSI

Polymateria has supported the development of new standards for polymer analysis, eco-toxicity and biodegradability testing. We have worked alongside a diverse steering group of technical specialists, including those from Imperial College London, Avient and BEIS, to help framework these standards, informed by Polymateria’s own strict internal criteria.

This has led to the development of a new British standard for biodegradable plastic. The new BSI PAS 9017 addresses a significant gap in the plastics landscape to ensure claims about biodegradability can be independently verified without causing any harm to the environment.

¹ British Standards Institution; ² European Committee for Standardization; ³ American Society for Testing and Materials
* Publicly Available Specifications

This is the first standard for measuring the biodegradability of polyolefins, the most littered form of plastic packaging. The standard is a test specification with strict pass/fail criteria to measure the biodegradability of a polyolefin plastic in the open environment without creating micro plastics or causing ecotoxicity issues.

This contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 on ensuring sustainable consumption and production and Goal 15 on the protection and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems and further complements existing ISO guidelines that ensure brands communicate responsible disposal to consumers and substantiate green marketing claims.

Link to the PAS

Stringent criteria on Mw and Mn
leaving no microplastic behind1

Source: Engineering Design with Polymers, James C. Gerdeen (2005), CRC press
¹ Eunomia Report for the DG Environment of the European Commission (ENV. A.2/FRA/2015/0008)