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A plastic-like polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biopolymer cap that’s recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable yields zero microplastics.

Rick Lingle, Senior Technical Editor

March 19, 2024

3 Min Read
Beyond Plastic/Canva

At a Glance

  • Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biopolymer cap is created using bacteria fermentation
  • PHA cap is recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable
  • Plastic caps are #2 ocean plastic pollutants

There’s an astonishing amount of plastic bottle caps in the oceans. Now a breakthrough biopolymer cap has the potential to address the problem.

Beyond Plastic introduces what it claims is the first-ever completely biodegradable plastic bottle cap. It’s made from polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), a biopolymer created using bacteria fermentation. The new, eco-friendly cap looks, feels, and performs just like traditional petroleum-based plastic caps but brings transformative advantages: it's recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable even in the most sensitive conditions, according to the company.

The Beyond Plastic bottle cap is said to contain zero microplastics and causes no harm to the environment in any of the three post-use scenarios.

According to a study from The North Sea Foundation, the oceans harbor an estimated 17 million bottle caps worldwide. Adding to the urgency, the University of Newcastle estimates that the average person ingests 250 grams of microplastics annually.

Plastic bottle caps are ocean plastic pollutant #2.

"We believe in tackling the plastic pollution problem directly,” opines Fred Pinczuk, CTO of Beyond Plastic. “Plastic bottle caps rank as the second most prevalent of the top five plastic pollutants found on our shores. It's a plastic that's hardly ever recycled and ends up causing massive harm if discarded in the environment.

“Our mission at Beyond Plastic is to create positive change by replacing the overwhelming number of single-use plastics that the world produces with sustainable packaging solutions. We believe PHA is the answer — it's a natural alternative that has all the performance capabilities of conventional plastics without the dangerous side effects to our planet."

Beyond Plastic has partnered with two complimentary companies to make this sustainable solution a success, CJ Biomaterials and Techlong International.

"We are proud to be working with Beyond Plastic in the development of this game-changing bottle cap," says Max Senechal, Chief Commercial Officer at CJ Biomaterials. "We are committed to introducing revolutionary, eco-friendly solutions to replace traditional plastics. This collaboration with Beyond Plastic is helping to transform the plastics industry with sensible, sustainable technology, and we're excited about the progressive impact this will have on a commercial scale."

PHA integration challenges, solutions.

To date, PHA holds more promise than real-world results.  Integrating PHA into existing systems has not been a straightforward process. Adapting conventional equipment that is typically used for petroleum-based plastics to effectively accommodate PHA adds a layer of complexity.

"Providing a PHA resin is not enough, you have to be able to provide a full turnkey solution that includes the adapted machinery to work with the material as seamlessly as it would running traditional polymers,” explains Keith Boss, CEO at Techlong International, Inc. “We approach this as a packaged and complete solution. We are thrilled to help Beyond Plastic on their mission, and we're excited to see that with our equipment they're able to make the right modifications that turn PHA into a real-world, viable solution for the marketplace.”

Successful commercializing of PHA depends on several factors.

“One of which is having great partnerships with leaders that both support and promote your vision,” states Lance Collins, Beyond Plastic CEO. “That's exactly what we've found with both CJ Biomaterials and Techlong. With their help, leadership, and knack for innovation, we're poised to revolutionize the plastics industry, help businesses have a positive impact, and significantly reduce plastic pollution, creating a cleaner planet for generations to come.”

About the Author(s)

Rick Lingle

Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday

Rick Lingle is Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday. He’s been a packaging media journalist since 1985 specializing in food, beverage and plastic markets. He has a chemistry degree from Clarke College and has worked in food industry R&D for Standard Brands/Nabisco and the R.T. French Co. Reach him at [email protected] or 630-481-1426.

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