I am Lucas Borg-Mirza, a Biochemistry Graduate from the University of Manchester.

Plastic waste is a major issue for our planet. Regular plastics are exceptionally durable, having a lifespan of approximately 50 years plus until they start breaking down. It is these characteristics of plastics, however, which makes them useful to human societies.

Plastic bags are a major cause for concern as they are light and easily blown away by the wind. Therefore, allowing global transport, polluting our Earth. Plastic bags have been found in desolate locations far away from human civilisations, having catastrophic effects on ecosystems. Major highways plastic utilise for transport are waterways such as river, resulting in pollution of our oceans. Here, not only do plastic bags actively interfere with life by their presence killing many birds and fish, but also at sea: wind, waves and sunlight breakdown this plastic waste into microplastics often less then half an inch in size. Microplastics have been found in the air we breath and also polluting man-made water systems. Furthermore, according to the National Geographic, almost every species of seabird eats plastic. Additionally, more than 100 aquatic species such as mussels and fish, which we eat, have been found to contain microplastics. These damage the organism causing cellular damage, making it a huge global issue, especially if they enter the food chain.

So what can we do? In an ideal world plastic usage should cease, however, this is difficult in today’s society as we depend on plastics on a daily basis. Recyclable plastics, in theory sounds like a good way to bypass this issue, if we recycle plastic then less gets leaked into the ecosystems right? No, this is not true unfortunately. Green Peace has found that over half of household plastics which are ‘recyclable’ are actually being sent overseas to countries with low recycling rates and are being burned or dumped illegally. This breaks my heart as burning anything produces harmful gases, not to mention a lot of plastics have added chemicals in them to increase their durability and lifespan, generating harmful gases polluting our atmosphere. Green Peace have stated that less than 10% of recyclable plastics actually gets recycled here in the UK. So recycling isn’t as effective as it seems and likely does more harm than good.

Oxo-Degradable plastics also have negative connotations as many of oxo-degradable plastics and including some bioplastics or starch-based plastics are not disposed of in the proper context, and have been shown to still produce microplastics.

Degradable plastics decomposition is triggered through environmental factors such as UV light, temperature, and oxygen exposure. These types of plastic do not fully breakdown leaving harmful microplastics in the environment. An example of this type of plastic are Oxo-degradable plastics, not be confused with Oxo-BIOdegradable plastics. Oxo-BIOdegradable plastics are slightly different. Plastic is essentially just a long chain of Carbon atoms which is called a polymer which can be envisioned -CHn-CHn-CHn- where n is the amount of hydrogen atoms bound to each Carbon atom.  Oxo-BIOdegradable plastics act as food sources for microorganisms, which metabolise the polymers producing carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). As you can see, the atoms that make up the polymer get oxidised by oxygen as microorganisms eat and breakdown these polymers.  This means that no microplastics are left in the environment as the plastic waste fully assimilates and is used as fuel by microbes. No polymers are left in the environment. This is better than conventional plastics as over the course of 1-3 years, biodegradable plastics degrade, which is levels of magnitude faster than conventional plastics, while also not leaving microplastics behind.  Oxo-BIOdegradable plastics, which is what our products are, use a mixture of environmental factors such as oxygen and light and microbial feeding to breakdown the plastics. Hence, OXO-BIOdegradable plastics are a better option than regular plastics, recyclable plastics and oxo-degradable plastics.