Bio-economy industry press releases.

Luke Upton

Scientific research confirms the marine biodegradability of Novamont’s Mater-Bi bioplastic.

But no tolerance for irresponsible behaviour: marine biodegradability to be seen merely as a factor mitigating ecological risk

Novara – Rome, 3 July 2019 – World-leading bioplastics firm Novamont has announced yesterday that its Mater-Bi bioplastic have resulted fully marine biodegradable, in a timeframe comprised between four months and one year in tests carried out in its own laboratories, by the German institute of marine sciences “Hydra” and by the University of Siena.

The studies were divided into three areas: disintegration in the marine environment (Hydra), ecotoxicity released into sediment as a result of biodegradation (University of Siena) and intrinsic marine biodegradability (Novamont laboratories) of fruit and vegetable bags made of Mater-Bi.

Mater-Bi samples exposed to marine microorganisms show the same levels of biodegradation as those reached by paper used as reference material, over a test period of under one year. It was shown that the speed of biodegradation increases the lower the dimensions of the item. This means that Mater-Bi does not release persistent microplastics, as they completely biodegrade within 20-30 days, the time required by OECD guidelines.

The investigation run by Hydra showed that Mater-Bi fruit and vegetable bags disappeared completely in a period of time ranging from less than four months to just over a year, depending on the nature of the seabed under consideration and its chemical/physical and biological characteristics. In the same timeframe, samples of similar fruit and vegetable bags made of PE were found to remain fully intact.

In the ecotoxicity biotests made by the University of Siena, three model species of organisms (unicellular algae, sea urchins and sea bass) were exposed to extracts of marine sediment injected with Mater-Bi or with cellulose. The sediment samples were tested after 6 months, when there were clear signs of Mater-Bi’s degradation, and after 12 months, when the injected samples had completely disappeared. The process of breaking down the Mater-Bi did not generate or transfer toxic substances into the sediments that could cause alterations in the growth of unicellular algae, embryotoxicity in sea urchins and oxidative stress in sea bass.

According to Catia Bastioli, Novamont Chief Executive Officer, “The intrinsic biodegradability of Mater-Bi products is a factor that can mitigate ecological risk. Our approach allows to prevent water pollution, for 80% caused by inadequate management of waste on land. This, however, must not become a commercial message. All products must be collected and recycled, including biodegradable products made of Mater-Bi, which must be recovered in the form of compost together with kitchen waste. Nothing must be discarded irresponsibly whether on the ground or in the sea”, concludes Bastioli.

The results of the environmental biodegradation of Mater-Bi have been verified by Certiquality within the framework of the “Environmental Technology Verification (ETV)” pilot programme.

All these analyses were made possible through the pioneering activities of the Open-bio research consortium chaired by Ortwin Costenoble of the Netherlands Standardisation Institute NEN and funded by the European Commission, which laid the foundations for the development and standardisation of the marine testing methods.

Novamont’s Mater-Bi is a family of fully biodegradable and compostable bioplastics which use renewable resources to provide a solution with low environmental impact and to solve specific environmental problems in various sectors, such as foodservice, packaging and separate collection of organic waste. Compost is an indispensable tool that can help solve the problem of degradation of soil, which is becoming increasingly low in carbon content and, therefore, less and less fertile.

Presentations, press materials, photos and a video can be found at: https://view.genial.ly/5d1941f5cbeb880f61ef1c9c

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