Group backs study of biodegradablility of plastics

By: Dan Hockensmith

October 24, 2011

MILTON, GA. (Oct. 24, 2:30 p.m. ET) — The Plastics Environmental Council is sponsoring a research study that aims to produce the first standard specification for landfill biodegradation of plastics containing additives to enhance biodegradation.

According to an Oct. 24 news release, Milton, Ga.-based PEC has partnered with Georgia Institute of Technology and North Carolina State University at Raleigh to conduct a large-scale research and development program, headed by professor Morton Barlaz of NC State. Barlaz and his team will study waste degradation rates of petroleum- and natural gas-derived plastics that have been treated with PEC member companies’ additives under laboratory and field conditions.

The goal is to produce a standard specification will reliably project landfill biodegradation rates for a given PEC-certified product in a given range of landfills over a given range of moisture conditions with much more certainty than is possible today.

“While we already know from various independent laboratory tests that our member companies' additives are expected to be effective at speeding up the biodegradation of petroleum and natural gas-derived plastics in landfills, this will be the first-of-its-kind study to verify biodegradation rates of plastic waste treated with such additives under both laboratory and field conditions,” Robert McKnight, PEC chairman, said in the release. “The new standard will allow us to develop a simple certification seal that will inspire confidence in these additives from businesses, consumers and regulators.”

The council expects the certification to be available in approximately 18 months.

PEC member companies include Wincup, Ecologic, Bio-Tec Environmental, ECM Biofilms, Pure Plastics, C-Line Products, Inc., Ecolab, and FP International.