Polymateria has developed an environmentally friendly plastics option.
The London-based Polymateria Ltd, a new materials firm, is manufacturing plastics that break down into harmless components in less than a year. The company has added a unique ingredient during the manufacturing stage to its plastics that can be used for both rigid or flexible products. Polymateria has indicated the ingredient will allow the material to naturally biodegrade in approximately 226 days for polyethylene films and 336 days for rigid polypropylene containers.
Polymateria was first conceived at Imperial College London and is chaired by former Marks & Spencer CEO Mark Bolland. It plans to launch first in Asia, targeting polluting plastic polymers, polyurethane and polypropylene. The company’s alternatives according to insiders, will eventually whittle down to a waxy sludge made of organic elements like carbon dioxide and oxygen. This way, any of the plastic’s remnants will be easily accepted back into the environment.
The British Standards Institution has confirmed many of the company’s claims, and the clothing brand Puma is scheduled to be the first to incorporate Polymateria’s plastic into its products. Niall Dunne, the company’s CEO, said they “are also testing in India, and due to launch soon, and we are talking to manufacturers in China and the USA.”
“The need for an overhaul of standards assessing biodegradation of plastics has been recently recognized in the U.K.,” said Dr. Dannielle Green of Anglia Ruskin University, who was involved in the validation of the new British Standard. “The standards landscape needs to be ever evolving, with standards themselves like living entities, being updated every few years to reflect the growing science and to increase their relevance to the real environment. The standard is a step in the right direction, and the interdisciplinary collaborative approach used by BSI is exemplary, but I think there is still a lot to do globally to make standards assessing biodegradation of plastics in all habitats – soil, fresh water and marine – more environmentally relevant.”
Any Polymateria products will be stamped with a “recycle by” date, after which they would gradually return to nature.
Frederic de Mevius, of Anheuser-Busch, is a director and investor in Polymateria. He said, “Within two to five years we will be supplying twenty to fifty of the largest brands that are responsible for plastic pollution.” The company has also appointed Steven Altmann-Richer, formerly of Tesla, as Head of Public Affairs & Regulatory Strategy. He will work with policy makers and regulators across the world to accelerate Polymateria’s mission to solve the global plastic pollution crisis.
“I’m an optimist and believe that most people will do the right thing but have been incredibly confused by the eco-labelling jungle we have created around packaging,” Dunne said. “We provide a clear time frame within which responsible disposal needs to happen. If the system fails and biodegradation is needed, claims can be substantiated against a bedrock of scientific proof through the new BSI PAS (Publicly Available Specification) Standard, which hasn’t been the case previously.”