Symphony urges manufacturers to turn to oxo biodegradables

By: Charlotte Eyre

October 29, 2013

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — UK-based Symphony Environmental Technologies plc says manufacturers should use oxo degradable additives because bio-based materials are expensive, hard to recycle and don't have the same qualities as traditional materials.

Symphony is one of the most prominent suppliers of oxo-biodegradable masterbatches, which convert plastics at the end of their useful life into a material with a different molecular structure.

At the end of the process it is no longer a plastic and will disappear in the open environment "in the same way as a leaf," said the company.

CEO Michael Laurier said his company's solutions provide a much more effective way of dealing with plastic pollution than bio-based plastics.

"We control the life of ordinary plastics and provide more flexibility than bio-based materials because our market is the entire plastic industry," CEO Michael Laurier told European Plastics News. "We want to support the plastic market not disrupt it."

According to Laurier, bio-based materials are expensive and don't have the same qualities as non bio alternatives. He also pointed out that bio-based solutions don't solve the problem of plastic litter.

"The United Arab Emirates and Pakistan have passed laws that all firms making plastic bags must use an oxo biodegradable solution," he said. "They don't want bio-based materials because they don't fix the litter problems. Bio-based products can be composted but to be composted they have to be picked up."

And sometimes plastics are too contaminated to be recycled, he added. So agricultural films which are covered in dirt and soil can, instead, be disposed of thanks to Symphony technology.

Earlier this year industry association EuPC slammed oxo fragmentable plastics, saying they should be banned in Europe.

However, the EuPC has been "lobbied well," according to Laurier.

"The EuPC is supposed to take a balanced view but their committee has serious representation from bio-based companies," he said.

The company exhibited a range of its products at K this year. As well as the d2w masterbatch, the firm showed the recently launched d2p anti-fungal technology.

The d2p product can be added to most polymers during the manufacturing process and it acts to prevent the growth of fungi, bacteria, mildew and algae in applications such as pipes and air conditioning units. It is also showing promise in food packaging to preserve the shelf life of cheese and breads, said Laurier.

Another promising technology is the d2t tag and trace technology, which can help customers prevent against fraud, said.

The d2tag is a microtag which is smaller than a grain of salt but marked with a unique code. It carries information such as manufacturing date, plant location and authorized country of sale and can be applied using inks, dyes, paints or an extrusion process.