The material’s makers aim to cut through consumer ‘greenwash’ with packaging that decays to order.
One solution to the plastic menace would be a type of plastic that would biodegrade – and truly biodegrade, rather than just turning one piece of plastic into many smaller fragments – before it washed down our rivers and into our oceans.
This is the ambition driving a British company called Polymateria. It has developed a process to manufacture plastic it says decomposes harmlessly in the natural environment. It involves mixing an additive in with normal plastics during manufacture to create food and drink packaging, shrink wrap, bubble wrap, fruit nets, plastic bags and the like.
The plan is to stamp a “recycle by” date on each piece of plastic. But should the packaging end up as litter, once it’s exposed to the elements, it will biodegrade anyway. “In lab tests that mimic ambient real-world conditions, our polyethylene waxes will go back to nature in 226 days, and our polypropylene waxes in 336 days,” Dunne explains.