Did you know? 14 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year.
Were you aware of this before? Unfortunately, this is happening to all the ocean bottoms around the world. Plastic is the most common sort of trash in the ocean, accounting for 80 percent of all marine debris collected from the surface to deep-sea sediments. Every continent’s shorelines are littered with plastic, with more waste found near famous tourist attractions and densely populated areas. The recent discovery of’ microplastics’ has added to the confusion around plastic consumption. The confusion echoes that the plastic particles with a diameter of less than 5 mm have been found in water, food, air, human blood, tissues, and bodily fluids! However, it is unclear if microplastics represent any negative consequences on health or the environment.
Single-use plastic has been a controversial topic of discussion among environmentalists and government units over the past few years. Rather than emphasizing the importance of improving waste management parameters, the focus is on how plastic consumption harms humans, animals, birds, marine life, and the ecosystem. Many countries lack the infrastructure to prevent plastic pollution, such as sanitary landfills, incinerator facilities, recycling capacity, and circular economy infrastructure, as well as proper waste management and disposal systems. This results in ‘plastic leakage’ into rivers and the ocean, causing environmental devastation.
But on the contrary, few facts say that food waste can be as high as 50% during transport without plastic packaging. In supermarkets, grapes sold in sealed trays have reduced waste in stores by over 20%. Compared to alternative materials, plastics result in over a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Now the dilemma is whether to see the plastic as a boon or a scourge. Let’s talk about some more real-life scenarios.
Plastic- A Resource for Mankind!
Plastic became popular in the 20th century due to its attributes such as lightweight, durability, flexibility, water resistance, reusability, and so on, and with its exponential use, no one can deny that plastics are one of mankind’s most striking inventions. Plastics are a broad category of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials made primarily of polymers. As a result, it replaced traditional packaging such as glass, wood, metal, paper, cloth, and jute, lowering the cost of goods transportation significantly. In 2018, India’s annual plastic use was estimated to be at 18 thousand kilotons.
The natural resources like land, water & energy required to manufacture 1 plastic bag are considerably less than that required for 1 bag of jute or cotton or any other forms of packaging. Hence, rather than banning plastics, the effective management of plastic is the key solution to plastic pollution.
One way to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags is to use biodegradable additives. These additives cause the plastic to break down more quickly when exposed to light, or heat. This means that plastic bags made with these additives will decompose more quickly than traditional plastic bags. It is necessary that the industry experts & the government bodies evaluate & implement one of such promising technologies which will enable responsible use & re-use of plastics.
What are biodegradable Additives?
biodegradable Additives are substances that are introduced into classic plastics such as Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), and Polyvinylchloride (PVC) during conversion into end goods such as shopping bags, garbage bags, cutlery items, and so on. Chemical catalysts comprising transition metals such as cobalt, manganese, iron, and others are used in the additives to aid in the biodegradation of plastics without damaging the environment.
biodegradable Bags Market Size
Geographically, the global biodegradable Bags market is segmented into seven regions: North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific Excluding Japan (APEJ), Japan, and the Middle East and Africa (MEA).
Biodegradable Additives & MicroPlastics
The term “microplastic” refers to tiny plastic particles with a maximum dimension of 5 mm. It is processed in two ways: first, through commercial product development (examples: fishing nets, microfiber in textiles, cosmetics, and so forth.) and second, through the breakdown of larger plastics (examples: fishing nets, microfiber in textiles, cosmetics, and so on). Microplastics are formed when plastic goods are exposed to sunlight, heat, chemicals, and other factors that cause physical breakdown (fragmentation). Because their chemical structure is intact, microorganisms may find it challenging to digest them. biodegradable Additives, on the other hand, break polymer chains chemically to generate microscopic wax particles that are not microplastics and can be easily digested by bacteria.
Even if these wax particles make it into the food chain, they are excreted as undigested waste by humans. They are metabolized by microorganisms on land or in water, posing no environmental or soil fertility risks. This activity is similar to that of fiber found in fruits and vegetables. The human body does not digest this fiber, although it is necessary for the creation of stools and bowel motions.
Another concern for plastic manufacturers is where to obtain high-quality additives that will actually help to solve the fundamental problem. Let’s look at how and why NICHEM can be their trustworthy one-stop platform for high-quality biodegradable additives, which can provide a promising solution to such challenges.
NICHEM’s BIOX - Biodegradable Additives
At NICHEM, we have developed BIOX – Biodegradable additive from transition metal salts & metal oxides. It is added as a masterbatch during the film blowing process. The transition metal salts are activated in the presence of UV. This triggers the reaction of breaking of polymer chains chemically in the plastic matrix from about 2.5 lac Daltons to less than 5000 Daltons. Thus, the polymer chains are degraded to oligomer chains which are digested by the microbes. This degradation takes place in aerobic as well as anaerobic conditions without the formation of microplastics. BIOX complies with ASTM D 6954 Test Standard as evaluated at Intertek Laboratories. It successfully clears all 3 tiers of the test namely UV Degradation, Biodegradation & Soil Toxicity/ It also complies with 21 CFR-FDA Standard for food safety & EN71 Parts 3-RoHS European Standard for heavy metals.
Applications of NICHEM’s BIOX Biodegradable Additives
The most common use for biodegradable Additives is plastic bags, such as shopping bags, garbage bags, single-use plastic items, multilayer packaging, and so forth. Because of their lightweight, these objects are difficult to recycle. Littering of these goods is to blame for the global plastic crisis, and using biodegradable Additives is the best way to address the problem with an impact of less than Rs 5 per kg of polymer.
Long-standing Specialty Chemicals player with ISO 9001:2015 certification and a history of providing specialty solutions for over 25 years. The company is headed by senior chemical industry specialists with combined expertise of more than 100 years. With an emphasis on eco-friendly, non-toxic products, the company’s primary strength is research, development, and customization. More information on NICHEM can be found at https://nichem.solutions.