Phone: (360) 654-4417
Phone: (360) 654-4417
The only technology in the world that makes conventional plastics biodegradable in landfills, anaerobic digesters, compost facilities, and the ocean.
BREAKING NEWS: Due to a recent ruling by an administrative judge, (in February 2015,) ENA-treated plastics, such as LDPE, can now be labeled as 'biodegradable' in the United States, without any qualification. The state of California does not permit this designation, but federal regulations permit it when there has been a positive ASTM D5511 test for biodegradation. ENA has tested positive for biodegradation in an ASTM D5511 test.
At Earth Nurture, we are dedicated to seeing that more and more of the plastic disposable items we use every day rejoin the cycle of life. We sell Earth Nurture masterbatch additive for rendering conventional plastics biodegradable in commercial compost facilities, landfills, anaerobic digesters, and in natural bodies of water.
Earth Nurture has a masterbatch additive for every common plastic, and many uncommon ones. Earth Nurture has a masterbatch additive that will cause the biodegradation in commercial composters, natural bodies of water, and landfills of: Polypropylene (PP,) Polyethylene (PE,) Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE,) High Density Polyethylene (HDPE,) PET ( Polyethylene terephthalate ,) Polystyrene (PS,) Expanded Polystyrene (EPS, sometimes called Styrofoam, which is a trademarked brand of EPS,) Nylon, and even Polylactic Acid (PLA.) (A masterbatch additive is an additive which is added to the masterbatch, which is the plastic as it is being melted for final fabrication into sheets or molded products.)
The History of Biodegradable Plastics
Because there are a number of different approaches to biodegrading plastic, and because people have developed so many misconceptions about biodegradable plastics, I have written a brief history of biodegradable plastics. There have been three generations of biodegradable plastic. The first was starch based plastic, PLA, almost always made out of corn. The second generation was oxo-biodegradable conventional plastic, and the third, the current generation, is microbiodegradable conventional plastic.
PLA, or corn-based biodegradable plastic
PLA, or corn-based biodegradable plastic, was said to be the first generation of biodegradable plastic, even though its primary manufacturer, Naturworks, states that it will not biodegrade in any natural environment, nor in landfills. PLA, Poly Lactic Acid, biodegrades only in commercial compost facilities - and many commercial compost facilities refuse to accept PLA. It is made and promoted by corporate giants that have huge financial and political power, such as Cargill, Inc., but it has many drawbacks.
It is billed as ***'sustainable,' as it is based on food sources, primarily corn. However, if all of the disposable plastic products in the world were made out of corn, 238,500,000 tons of corn would be used to make plastic. Prices for corn would rise dramatically, and third world hunger would increase even more dramatically. There are currently 1,000,000,000 hungry people in the third world, says the UN. If the amount of plastic disposables, such as packaging and drinking cups from fast food stands used in the US each year were all made of corn, it would take 18% of the country's farm land to fill the need. That is enough food to feed over 600 million people, people who need that food desperately. If we imagine their condition worsening only slightly, the result could only be a humanitarian catastrophe of appalling proportions. That is the real ramification of 'sustainability' in today's world.
Furthermore, PLA isn't a very good plastic. It imparts an off taste to water when used for water bottles, it melts when used as soup spoons, it's weak, and therefore items made of it are heavy, and it has a short shelf life, sometimes becoming a sticky mess while still in the warehouse. What's more, no recyclers accept it for recycling except the company that manufactures it, which ships it across the US to its one recycling center. In fact, recyclers that don't manufacture PLA, dislike PLA and are trying to ban it, because it gets confused with more conventional plastics, and ruins their recycled plastic batches.
Even the few commercial composters which accept PLA products have a limited appetite for PLA, because it adversely affects the compost batch as too much PLA makes the compost too acidic. One bottle manufacturer did a survey of commercial composters and found that 90% of those surveyed would not accept PLA bottles. Furthermore, PLA cannot be composted by home composters - PLA requires elevated heat beyond what home compost processes generates to compost. The most peculiar thing about calling PLA compostable, is that it leaves no residue in compost, and so it gives no contribution to humus. The ASTM standard for compostable plastic, ASTM D6400, actually requires that compostable plastic makes no contribution to humus. (For information about the effect of the corn boom on the environment, click here.)
Oxo - Biodegradable Plastic, the Second Generation of Biodegradable Plastic
The second generation plastic oxo - biodegradable plastic was very different than the the previous generation of biodegradable plastic called PLA, starch-based plastic, or 'spudware. Oxo-biodegradable plastic had many advantages over PLA-It was invulnerable to water, one might adjust it to the desired biodegradation rate, some products could contain recycled content, it could be recycled, it didn't diminish the grain supply, it was stronger, less expensive, and was made from an otherwise useless industrial byproduct, light naphtha. (Light naphtha is a highly volatile faction of crude oil that cannot be made into gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, or jet fuel.**)
This second-generation biodegradable plastic is little known in the US, but is is well established and widely used in Europe. Tesco and Carrefours, the largest grocery chains in the world, and in France, respectively, package their customers' groceries in oxo-biodegradable 't-shirt' bags. In fact, the largest bakers in Mexico and South Africa package bread in oxo - biodegradable bags, and oxo - biodegradable plastic is becoming common in India and China. The US is so far behind the curve on this, that it is a little embarrassing. (Update: Tesco has stopped using biodegradable plastic shopping bags, citing a study by DEFRA which reflected all of the issues I have cited.) Read the DEFRA report by clicking here.
Oxo - biodegradable plastic doesn't biodegrade when deeply buried in landfills*, because it requires an initial phase of degeneration which required certain environmental factors-oxygen and one of the following three circumstances-heat, UV light, or mechanical stress-and because the subsequent biodegredation part of the degredation only works in oxygenated environments. These circumstances don't exist when deeply buried in landfills, so oxo-biodegradable plastics don't have any benefit for products deeply buried in landfills. Oxo - biodegradable products may, however, offer a benefit if litter is the primary concern, as they degrade in the presence of UV light.
There is a potential problem with UV initiated degradation, however - if it becomes common and products made with oxo-biodegradable additives enter the recycling stream in large numbers, the resulting plastic could have a short lifespan if placed in sunlight. This would be a big problem for items made with recycled plastic such as plastic tarps.
The Third Generation of Biodegradable Conventional Plastics,