By Ann Amante


DAVAO City-- Committee chair on environment Councilor Marissa Salvador Abella, earlier met with representatives of a company that produces predegradant additive, Biomate, which makes polyethylene and polypropylene plastic bags biodegradable.

Introducing Biomate to the city councilor who is a staunch advocate of the conservation of biodiversity, Dennis D. Bernardo, market specialist of First in Colours (FIC), said this predegradant additive is manufactured in the Philippines with a Japan-made active ingredient. When added into the ingredients of plastic bags, he said, Biomate will take them "oxo-biodegradable" and non-toxic through a two-step process.

"The plastic bags will undergo two stages. First, they will fragment as they undergo oxidation. In 2 years, mawawala na sila sa environment. They will subsist into carbon dioxide, water, etc.," Bernardo told Abella. Because plastic bags are composed of bonded elements, he continued, Biomate will break the bonds during oxidation, leaving the simple elements to the environment. "What happens next is that the fragmented bags are consumed by micro-organisms as they undergo biodegradation," he said.

Saying that biodegradable plastic bags are non-toxic to the environment, he added that SM City malls and other establishments in Metro Manila are already using and promoting biodegradable plastic bags. Bernardo is visiting local government units (LGU) in Visayas and Mindanao, starting off in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Davao to introduce the usage and advantages of the said biodegrading additive. Meanwhile, Abella mentioned that the use of Styrofoam and plastic containers for food in the city will soon be implemented since the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) of the Davao City Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance of 2009 had just been completed.

"As soon as the city mayor will sign the IRR, the local government will strictly implement the ordinance," she said.  Abella said the ordinance was a significant action of the Davao City Council in line with its campaign to make the city eco-friendly, and in conserving biodiversity in general.  She will ask the environment consultant of her office to conduct a study on the possible use of Biomate in the city, which results may guide the legislation for more laws concerning the environment.

It was learned that the FIC had been a resource party in a committee hearing in the House of Representatives on matters that concern the environment.

Further, Bernardo said both the ASTM International, an international voluntary standards development organization, and the Industrial Technology Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology certified Biomate. "We can check if a material has a Biomate, including the percentage of its amount using a technology in our laboratory in Quezon City," Bernardo said.

A version of this article appeared in print on Feb 15, 2011 Tuesday.