New additive makes plastic compostable



plastic bottles

Credit: iStockphoto

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A new 'bio-compostable' plastic that makes mulch out of bottles and packaging is coming to a store near you.

The new product enables all plastics, except PVC, to biodegrade or compost into a non-toxic bi-product that's safe to breakdown in the environment. Called Goody G1, it can simply be incorporated into existing manufacturing systems making any plastic more environment-friendly.

"We can now actually turn plastic into a natural resource," said Nick Paech, Director of Goody. The company claims that Goody G1 will turn a 26-gram PET bottle into approximately 13 g of compost within 90 days.

"This is a massive breakthrough," said Paech.

A few bioplastics are on the market, but the new technology enables any plastic to become 'bio-compostable' just by using the additive.

Goody claim that the quality of the plastic is not affected until it starts to break-down. Manufacturers can decide how long they want the product to last simply by varying the amount of additive used - even up to five years.

Some bioplastics in the past have left toxic residues, leading to criticism of the industry. The environmental effects of bioplastics are also not yet strictly monitored. This has led to the Australian Government funding the development of a comprehensive set of standards for degradable plastics.

Goody G1 is the only product of its kind to achieve the Australian Standard for being 'bio-compostable', being tested by Flinders University in South Australia.

'Bio-compostable' means it will decompose under conditions with high airflow - like home and industrial compost - or biodegrade in oxygen-starved condition, such as in landfills.

"Goody is cutting edge technology - it has been through and passed an extensive range of testing," said Andrew Ball, Chair in Environmental Biology and Flinders Univeristy.

The product performs best when the plastics are composted industrially; however, it breaks down well in home compost, and will even disappear in landfill according to the Goody website.

"I see a great future for degradable plastics, as well as fully renewable plastics [plastics from renewable resources] and bioplastics [plastics from biological resources]," said Peter Halley, a materials scientist from University of Queensland.

This is due to the limited oil resources, waste problems and the problems of sustainability in plastic manufacturing, he added.