Biotransformation Technology

Biotransformation Technology

News: A UK-based startup has claimed to have developed a Biotransformation Technology that could alter the state of plastics and make them biodegradable.

 Biotransformation technology is a novel approach to ensure plastics that escape refuse streams are processed efficiently and broken down.
 Plastics made using this technology are given a pre-programmed time during which the manufactured material looks and feels like conventional plastics without compromising on quality.
 Once the product expires and is exposed to the external environment, it self-destructs, and bio transforms into bioavailable wax. This wax is then consumed by microorganisms, converting waste into water, CO2, and biomass.
 This biotransformation technology is the world’s first that ensures polyolefins fully biodegrade in an open environment causing no microplastics.

Need and Utility:
 India is generating 3.5 billion kgs of plastic waste annually and that the per capita plastic waste generation has also doubled in the past five years. Of this, a third comes from packaging waste.
 In 2019, plastic packaging waste from e-commerce firms was estimated at over a billion kilograms worldwide, according to Statista. Seeing such a burden of plastic waste, which could potentially harm biodiversity, it is needed to devise technology in order to tackle the Plastic Menace.
 Food packaging and health care industries are the two prime sectors that could use this technology to reduce waste.

Advantages of Biotransformation (Bio-T) packaging:
 Similar properties to regular polythene during product service life
 Will biodegrade in the open environment in the event of littering
 Leaves no microplastics behind
 Passes ecotoxicity tests - not harmful to the environment
 Cheaper and stronger than compostable (starch-based) packaging
 Food-safe
 Reusable and recyclable in existing waste streams (alongside regular polythene packaging)

 Produced using non-renewable fossil fuels
 Takes longer to degrade than compostable (starch-based) packaging
 Not suitable for industrial composting (does not meet EU compostable standard EN13432)
 Not suitable for home composting

Alternatives to reducing Plastics:
 Jute or paper based packaging, wooden packaging.
 National expo and conference on startups organized by Tamil Nadu government showcased several alternatives to plastics such as using coir, bagasse, rice and wheat bran, plant and agricultural residue, banana leaves etc. 

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