Bioplastics producer Novamont has announced that, following scientific testing, its bioplastic carrier bags made using MATER-BI technology, are 100 per cent biodegradable in anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.
The study was carried out in Germany by IGlux Witzenhausen and Witzenhausen-Institut for the Italian bio-based materials company, testing the MATER-BI bioplastic bags in the AD process using equipment made by four different companies: Kompogas, Thoeni, Bekon and WTT.
The test was commissioned in Germany due to the significant role played by organic waste in the country’s national renewable energy plan regards to its application in producing biogas. A fully biodegradable carrier bag would provide a boon for landfill reduction goals and for the energy-from-waste sector.
Over the course of the testing process, the carrier bags were monitored at the pre-treatment, AD, post-composting and maturation stages at each plant, with the percentage by weight of MATER-BI in the input material registered as between 3.5 and 3.8 per cent.
Novamont said in a statement: “Degradation began during the anaerobic stage and was completed during composting. In total the process took between five and ten weeks, depending on the plant.
“No MATER-BI residue was found in any of the samples examined at the end of the test, demonstrating that it had completely degraded in all four plants… The test was entirely successful, with complete degradation of MATER-BI carrier bags within the time normally taken for the process at all four plants, which are representative of the majority of anaerobic digestion facilities employed to process organic waste in Germany, eliminating any reservations about use of the bags.”
Bags of potential
It is hoped that this step forward for bio-plastic carrier bags will prove to be another weapon in the fight against plastic waste.
The harmful impact of plastic pollution is perhaps felt most keenly in the marine environment, with 12.2 million tonnes of plastic entering the marine environment every year, according to research by Eunomia Research & Consulting, with plastic packaging and bags among the main contributors to this figure.
Governments have taken steps to lessen the impact of plastic pollution, with the UK introducing a five pence plastic bag levy in October 2015 which saw the main UK supermarkets issue seven billion plastic bags than the year before the introduction of the levy, while in France, a ban on single-use plastic bags was implemented in July of last year