Speeding up Mother Nature
Working with our partner, Breakdown Plastic™, we have developed a revolutionary biodegradable* PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) for the thermoformed packaging industry. Breakdown-PET is a recyclable AND biodegradable* PET film with all of the properties of conventional PET.
The focus for this product remains firstly as a recyclable PET product. The newly added features mean any products not recycled and finding their way to landfill WILL bio-degrade in a matter of a few years.
Breakdown-PET is a landfill-friendly PET product which biodegrades* from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms in anaerobic landfill sites.
The length of time for biodegradation* in anaerobic landfill will vary depending on surface area, mass, thickness, microbial activity in the landfill and moisture levels. Breakdown-PET has shown** enhanced biodegradation, naturally decomposing in landfill in a few years instead of centuries.
Everything on earth biodegrades eventually, leaving behind CO2, methane and organic matter. The materials used to manufacture Breakdown-PET simply enhance this process, resulting in the same leftovers as organic material.
The Clever Stuff
Microorganisms love carbon… in small bits!
The naturally occurring microorganisms that live in landfills love carbon — and landfills are filled with it. Sure, there’s a lot of carbon in plastic, but it’s in long chains called polymers. Microorganisms find these long chain polymers hard to eat – that’s why we’re making them snack-sized.
Breakdown PET incorporates a specially formulated organic additive whose ingredients allow microorganisms, found in active microbial environments, to penetrate the plastics polymer chains. These microbes feast on the polymer chains and break them down into smaller molecule chains that allow the material to pass through the cellular walls of the microbes and be digested (biodegraded).
Summary of the Breakdown-PET journey
Packaging containers can take many routes on their journey. We all hope the end-of-life outcome for a packaging container results in it being recycled to be re-used again in a sustainable way. But we must make contingency plans for those containers finding their way to landfills. Breakdown-PET ensures that the end-of-life outcome for a container that finds its way to a landfill is biodegradation with no lasting impact on the environment.
The benefits of Breakdown-PET
- Recyclable AND biodegradable.*
- FDA and EU Food Contact Compliant.
- Petroleum based plastics require significantly less energy to manufacture than plant-based bioplastics such as PLA (Polylactic Acid). Breakdown-PET combines the lower energy consumption in manufacture of petroleum-based PET with the benefit of end-of-life biodegradation.*
- There is no change in the physical properties, shelf life or strength of Breakdown-PET products compared to conventional PET products.
- Like conventional post-industrial PET re-grind, post-industrial regrind can be recycled.
Compared to conventional PET packaging, Breakdown-PET will reduce the long-term impact on landfill in several ways:
- Reducing the bulk of plastic waste allows for more effective use of diminishing landfill space.
- Landfill environments are anaerobic in nature and lead to CH4 (methane) off-gassing. CH4 can be reclaimed as a source for clean, inexpensive energy. The Clean Air Act requires all landfills to reclaim methane and other Greenhouse Gases (GHG), which are to be burned or used to create energy.
- Using methane from landfills is the most inexpensive form of “green” energy available at this time. It is even cheaper than solar, hydro, wind and alternative fuels. Corporations and government entities utilise methane in fulfilling sustainability goals.
What Breakdown-PET is not
* Biodegradation rates of Breakdown-PET plastic materials are measured according to the ASTM D5511 test method for determining anaerobic biodegradation of plastics under high solids anaerobic digestion conditions. Tests are generally conducted using 50% solids content. Solids content in naturally wetter landfills range from 55% to 65%, while the driest landfills may reach 93%. Actual biodegradation rates will vary in biologically-active landfills according to the type of plastic used, the product configuration, and the solid content, temperature and moisture levels of the landfill.
** Independent 3rd party testing, using the ASTM D5511 test method.
*** Oxo-degradable plastics use metal salts to break apart the plastic and are not recyclable.