Degradable plastics

Degradable plastics

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Less than a century ago, humanity admitted plastics into their lives, which quickly conquered their niche in our lives. Plastics are convenient, cheap and practical; few people compare in properties with polyethylene and polypropylene.

However, the durability of plastic, its chemical and mechanical resistance, suddenly became its sore spot. So, an ordinary plastic bag can lie in the ground for hundreds of years.

Today, many are asking the question - does humanity need immortal films, bottles and bags? In the West, many forces are devoted to studying this issue, but in Russia, many have not heard of biodegradable plastics. And this topic, having just appeared, quickly overgrown with stereotypes, myths and rumors.

There are many alternative solutions in this area, but we will consider one of the most promising - the use of the d2w additive, which ensures product decomposition within 1-3 years. Today this technique is already used in more than 60 countries, which convincingly proves its effectiveness.

Degradable plastics myths

To switch to a new process requires a complex and expensive replacement of technology, equipment, retraining of personnel. The d2w additive is used in a small amount of 1% with standard PE and PP. Such an insignificant number of it does not affect the processing in any way - the technological process remains the same, no replacement of equipment is required.

The product acquires new properties, the old ones are already lost. The introduction of only 1% of the additive in the manufacturing process of products (bags, films, containers) does not change the product itself in any way. It has the same appearance and the same physical and mechanical properties. There is only one difference - after a certain period of time, which is determined by the formulation of the additive, oxidative reactions, and then biodegradation will lead to changes in the properties of the product. Usually this happens 1-2 years after production, as a result, the plastic will begin to lose its strength, it will become more fragile, disintegrate into fragments, and eventually disappear altogether, breaking down into water, carbon dioxide and biomass.

For the disappearance of such plastic, special conditions are required. As an analogy, plant-based biopolymers are cited, which only decompose under industrial composting conditions. Plastics with d2w content do not require special humidity, pressure or temperature. The only requirements, not at all complicated, are the presence of light and microorganisms. It is easier to say that if such a package is thrown on the shore of a reservoir or dump, then in a year and a half, the plastic product will disappear. If the products are stored in warehouse conditions, then they will retain their original properties longer, the decomposition process will be started only after using the product. Thus, the decomposition process is quite flexible, which is beneficial for everyone - the manufacturers of packaging, those who use it and the end consumer.

Such materials should not be recycled. Like conventional PE and PP, such materials bearing d2w additive can be fully recyclable. It is interesting that not only industrial waste can be recycled, that is, products can be recycled. This is, of course, true in cases where the decomposition process has not yet begun. But the additive can be used with secondary raw materials, and not only with primary ones.

In principle, it is not correct to speak about the degradability of synthetic polymers. Synthetic polymers are not normally biodegradable. Due to their molecular structure, these substances obtain practically unique properties of strength, elasticity, oxidation resistance and durability. Polymers have long and branched molecular chains. Thus, the molecular weight of polyethylene is 17,000 times greater than the molecular weight of water. Ultimately, however, even polymers such as PP and PE are at risk of degradation, first through oxidation and then through biochemical degradation. Of course, such processes will take hundreds of years, while the presence of light and high temperatures is also necessary, which will lead to the destruction of polymer molecular chains. The d2w additive can be considered a pro-degradant that acts as a catalyst for the rapid destruction of molecular chains. This leads to an increase in the fragility of the plastic product, its rapid disintegration into flakes. As the molecular chains decrease in size, carbon combines with oxygen, resulting in the formation of carbon dioxide. In this case, the molecular weight is rapidly decreasing to 40,000 atomic mass units. At this stage, the material acquires the ability to absorb moisture, microorganisms gain the access they need to hydrogen and carbon. At this stage, biological decay occurs. Carbon helps organisms build cell walls, carbon dioxide is released, oxygen combines with hydrogen and a liquid is released in the form of water.

It is preferable to use degradable plastic with the use of plant materials. Today, in times of crisis, the use of expensive plant materials is especially unjustified. In addition, one should not forget about the problems of hunger in many countries. Today, by the way, there is a steady rise in food prices, which is directly related to the production of biofuels. The use of the d2w additive eliminates the need to use biological raw materials. Just 1% catalyst added to standard synthetic polyolefins will produce environmentally friendly degradable plastics.

There are no such materials in Russia and will not appear soon. For some reason, the Russian market is still considered backward. In fact, these technologies have already come to us, the additive can be ordered from Simplex, which is the official distributor of the English company Symphony Environmental, which produces the additive. In this case, the sellers will give all the necessary advice.

Environmental issues are very important, but quite costly. Indeed, the additive is more expensive than conventional polyolefins. But in the total mass of plastic there is only 1% of the additive, the cost of raw materials increases by 10-15%, and the cost of the entire product is even less. All of this is more than pays for itself with environmental and marketing benefits.

Now there is no time to think about ecology. To answer this statement, remember the words of Antoine de Saint Exupery: "We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors at all - we just borrowed it from our children." Everyone should at any time think about the safety of the fragile environment that surrounds us - about nature. In Russia, people are spoiled by the breadth of open spaces, it seems that the resources are endless, and if trouble comes, it will not come soon. However, an unpleasant reality can come much sooner, today forests and reservoirs are already filled with plastic bottles and bags, but what will happen tomorrow? What will our children see?

Watch the video: How bio-degradable products could be Indias answer to beat plastic pollution (August 2022).