Polymateria
The biotransformed plastics developed through the partnership between Polymateria and Toppan were verified by the fully accredited AIMPLAS Technological Institute of Plastic laboratory in Spain

Polymateria, in partnership with Indian plastic manufacturer Toppan Specialty Films (TSP), has released packaging that fully biodegrades, and leaves no microplastic and toxins behind. It’s the fastest-ever full biodegradation of biaxially oriented (flexible) polypropylene that is used in food and cosmetic packaging. The result was achieved using Polymateria’s innovative biotransformation technology, which is set to play a significant part in reducing plastic pollution in India and worldwide.

Polymateria also worked with one of the world’s largest confectionery manufacturers to create rigid plastic packaging armed with biotransformation technology, which was measured to fully biodegrade in 230 days, breaking a previous record of 310 days. These twin breakthroughs mean that common packaging from candy wrappers to cigarette packaging could be made biodegradable – with important impacts on the 11 million tons of plastic waste that reach the ocean every year.

The first prototypes of biotransformed plastics developed through the partnership between Polymateria and Toppan were verified by the fully accredited AIMPLAS Technological Institute of Plastic laboratory in Spain, which tested the plastics under the ISO 17556 standard for biodegradability.

Niall Dunne, CEO of Polymateria said, “I’m delighted to be announcing our record-speed biodegradation here in India given the leadership role the country is playing in tackling plastic pollution. In a market the size of India, multiple solutions will be needed and our technology provides an additional route by making plastic fully biodegradable in the ambient environment. Working with sustainability champions such as Toppan gives me great hope that the industry will rise to the challenge by coming together.”

Manohar Kumar, CEO of Toppan Speciality Films said, “We are delighted to see the record-speed biodegradation achieved by combining our plastic packaging with Polymateria’s technology. We are already seeing huge interest in our sustainable biodegradable packaging in India and look forward to working with some of the country’s most well-known brands as it gets widely rolled out.”

Products using Polymateria’s technology can be recycled, but if they escape into nature, they will biotransform into a bioavailable wax. The wax then attracts microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, which safely digest it and return it to nature without harm.

Biotransformation technology will be part of the solution to the global problem of plastic pollution, and Toppan is leading the way in adopting innovative technologies which can be brought to scale rapidly. This technology has the potential to significantly boost the sustainability of the packaging industry, in conjunction with other measures including improved waste management systems, consumer education, and further innovative ideas from both government and the private sector.

Time is running out to tackle plastic pollution, with some projections suggesting there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Governments and businesses across many sectors need to work together to create a cleaner future.

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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