The term "biodegradable" has been used over the past few years, to describe plastics or packaging that could potentially be metabolized by microorganisms in nature, with complete breakdown to CO2/Methane, water and biomass. However, there is significant confusion and controversy surrounding biodegradable plastics since many suppliers have used the term to loosely describe their material/packaging without specifying the conditions under which the material would degrade in nature. For instance, some plastics (like PLA) will only degrade under industrial composting conditions, while some others (like PHA) can break down under a wider range of conditions and environments (industrial, backyard, marine). Given this widespread confusion and the misuse of the "biodegradable" term, many global government and industry organizations have issued guidelines to restrict or eliminate the unqualified use of biodegradable as a descriptor of plastics or packaging. These include the European Commission guidelines (European Plastics Strategy) and the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides in the US.
In line with such guidelines, Ubuntoo's recommends that companies providing biodegradable materials, products or packaging:
1.Avoid unqualified use of the term "biodegradable" to describe their products
2.Any claim of biodegradability should be accompanied by a description of specific conditions and environments under which the material or product will undergo degradation in nature
3.It is strongly recommended that companies provide globally accepted certifications or testing for various biodegradability claims (such as the BPA certification for industrial composting)
Further in line with the position articulated by the European Commission as well as major CPG companies, Ubuntoo recommends that "biodegradable" plastics should not be considered a solution for littering (or worse a license to litter). Appropriate collection and end-of-life solutions (such as industrial composting or home composting) need to be put into place to avoid biodegradable plastics ending up as litter in the environment.
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Danimer Scientific is a pioneer in creating more sustainable, more natural ways to make plastic products. For more than a decade, their renewable and sustainable biopolymers have helped create plastic products that are biodegradable and compostable. They return to nature instead of polluting our lands and waters.
Their technology can be found in a vast array of plastic end products that people use every day. Applications for their biopolymers include additives, aqueous coatings, fibers, filaments, films, hot-melt adhesives and injection-molded articles, among others.
Danimer Scientific uses canola oil as feedstock for PHA-producing bacteria. They begin the PHA production process by cultivating the bacteria in a canola-oil-based nutrient environment. The organisms manufacture PHA in their cells through biosynthesis. Through proprietary manipulations of the nutrient environment and extremely controlled and optimized calculations, Danimer Scientific scientists produce PHA quantities ranging from half a liter to 10 liters in their R&D lab to multiple tanks with the capacity range of up to 20,000 liters.
To extract PHA from the cells of the cultivated microorganisms, Danimer Scientific uses a proprietary extraction process in which the biomass is removed to isolate the final purified PHA product. The resulting PHA is then dried, producing the clean white powder ready to be pelletized. The absence of toxic chemicals is one of the qualities that makes Danimer Scientific PHA particularly appealing as a biopolymer for food-contact and medical purposes.
Danimer Scientific will produce its proprietary Nodax polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) material. Nodax PHA is a biopolymer that can be used to manufacture a vast array of versatile, biodegradable plastic products, including drinking straws, food packaging, cups, bottles, shopping bags, plates, trash bags, labels and more. The material is compostable, 100 percent bio-based and biodegradable in anaerobic, soil, fresh water and marine environments.
The company leaders aim to start operations in the fourth quarter of 2019 in their fermentation facility located in Winchester, Kentucky with a $36.2 million investment and create 37 full-time jobs.
Stephen Croskrey is the current CEO. He previously served as the president and CEO of Armor Holdings Products, LLC, and also held senior executive positions at Allied Signal and Mobil Oil. He serves on the Board for Surgical Momentum LLC, a healthcare data-analytics firm, and Precysmedtx, LLC, a medical-device company.