Enzyme additives that break down plastic and improve recycling

enzima plástico
23 February, 2021

Innovative Film Solutions developed a new cocktail of complex enzymes that accelerate the biodegradation of plastics. Leftover material, the company claims, can be reprocessed into high-quality plastic again

Plastic waste management continues to be in the sights of consumers and governments around the world. In order to improve the waste problem, new research developed enzyme additives that break down plastic, speeding up the biodegradation process while improving the recycling process.

The Spanish company Innovative Film Solutions developed a new cocktail of complex enzymes that not only accelerate the biodegradation of plastics, but the excess material can be reprocessed into high-quality plastic again.

Enzymes that eat plastic

Innovative Film Solutions has produced a new range of plastic films as a sustainable and compostable alternative to conventional packaging films. The researchers focused on an enzyme technology that accelerates the breakdown of plastic.
The Spanish company leads the REBICOM project, financed with European funds, and which is responsible for developing technologies and processes to reduce standard thermoplastic polymers, whether of fossil or renewable origin, to their basic components.

REBICOM coordinator, Joaquín Buendía, pointed out that: “Plastics take hundreds, if not thousands of years, to degrade and break into smaller and smaller pieces. Adding certain compounds to plastics could act as a culture for microorganisms. These organisms initiate the depolymerization of the material, they feed on the carbon bonds, thus accelerating the biodegradation ”. The researchers encapsulated certain enzyme complexes in a polyolefin matrix (Polypropylene and Polyethylene), obtaining a masterbatch that was incorporated into the formulation of plastic films during the production process.

“Plastic films have an inactive charge inside that is 100% recyclable. When these plastic films end up in the environment in contact with microorganisms, their load triggers an enzymatic reaction that makes them biodegradable in a relatively short period of time, given the appropriate levels of temperature and humidity, ”explained Buendía.

New naturally decomposing smart plastics are a flexible alternative to conventional plastic packaging films. Importantly, they do not increase costs or production densities of the material.

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