Pinoy company makes additive that renders plastic materials biodegradable

Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla / Reporter
Business Mirror

Tuesday, 01 June 2010 05:55


THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) recently verified a unique additive that makes plastic materials biodegradable, according to biodiesel pioneer Chemrez Technologies Inc.

ChemrezTech said in a statement that the DOST-ITDI issued Environmental Technology Verification-013 for BioMate, manufactured by First In Colours Inc. (FIC), a ChemrezTech sister company.

ChemrezTech said BioMate is the first such additive in the P75-billion Philippine plastics film and bags industry to be verified by the ITDI as making plastics both photo and biodegradable, although many imported additives sold in the local market have made similar claims.

“Polyolefin plastics formulated with BioMate undergo a two-step degradation process; first by photodegradation and then biodegradation,” Lester Lao, FIC operations manager, said.

Lao explained that photodegradation is the breakdown of plastic by ultraviolet light and thermal energy from the sun.

Lao said biodegradation is the process where the broken-plastic materials are digested by bacteria and living organisms, and eventually transformed into carbon dioxide and water.

If exposed outdoors, Lao said films with BioMate would embrittle in 30 to 45 days.

He added that embrittlement continues until the films are small enough for bacteria and microorganisms to consume (within nine to 12 months). Indoors, the shelf life of plastics with BioMate is six to nine months.

“Because BioMate makes plastic bags oxo-biodegradable, pollution of waterways which hurts marine life, clogging of sewage that causes flood, and choking of landfills are prevented when these plastic materials are littered,” he said.

Lao added that BioMate was formulated in response to the public clamor for more environment-friendly products, especially since chronic flooding during the wet season is usually blamed on nonbiodegradable plastics clogging waterways.

Being the first and only such Filipino product, BioMate is a testament to the pioneering spirit of FIC, a company also known for introducing custom colorants to the plastic industry, Lao said.

It is currently being used to produce oxo-biodegradable plastic bags for leading supermarkets, drugstores and many other retailers and food outlets in the Philippines. It is also being exported abroad.

BioMate is nontoxic and free from heavy metals, including cobalt, making it suitable for use in plastics for food-contact applications.

“Cobalt is a heavy metal. While it is not yet restricted, it is not a good idea to have it in contact with food,” Lao said.