Plastic production is expected to increase by 40% by 2o30. The production and incineration of plastic were estimated to produce 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2019. That’s equal to the emissions from 189 five-hundred megawatt coal power plants.
By 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach more than 56 gigatons, which is 10 – 13 percent of the entire remaining global carbon budget.
A UK startup, Polymateria, says its new technology called Biotransformation could help tackle the global plastic pollution crisis.
The company says their technology biodegrades common forms of plastic and leaves zero microplastics with no environmental harm. In a press statement, the company claims the technology enables precise time-controlled onset of biodegradation to give recycling every chance to happen.
According to Niall Dunne, CEO of Polymateria biodegradable solutions have faltered in the past, primarily due to the creation of microplastic, lack of compatibility with recycling systems, and confusion from consumers around the recycling of packaging.
“In developing Biotransformation, we wanted to empower consumers and make responsible disposal key to how the technology is deployed,” said Dunne. “By working with some of the biggest brands and leveraging the World Economic Forum’s Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer research, we realized we needed to cut through the eco-labeling jungle with a simple concept people would understand.”
“As we [..] introduce “controllable perish-ability” to packaging, timed to give recycling every chance, we borrowed terms consumers understand [..] to instead provide them with recycle-by dates or where recycling isn’t an option dispose-by dates,” added Dunne.
When the technology is activated, a chemical conversion causes rapid loss of physical properties. The technology attacks the crystalline and amorphous region of the polymer structure and turns it into a wax-like material that’s not harmful to the environment because it isn’t a plastic anymore.
The company says that real-world testing from an independent third-party laboratory in partnership with Imperial College resulted in two key results: 100% biodegradation on rigid plastic in 336 days and film material biodegradation in 226 days.
Polymateria has also received two research grants from Innovate UK.