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Study Definitively Proves Degradation of Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics in Oceans, Says Symphony Environmental

The successful conclusion of the five-year study confirms that oxo-biodegradable plastic, as distinct from oxo-degradable plastic, properly biodegrades in the open environment and is not toxic, said the company.

Clare Goldsberry

April 5, 2021

UK-based Symphony Environmental announced the “successful conclusion” of the five-year Oxomar study sponsored by the French Agence National de Recherche. “This study provides further comprehensive and reliable scientific data on the performance of d2w in the oceans,” said Symphony Environmental. “The study had a multidisciplinary approach, including physics, chemistry, and biology.”

Symphony said that the report confirms the findings of the scientists in its September 2020 interim report that “oxo-biodegradable plastics biodegrade in seawater and do so with significantly higher efficiency than conventional plastics. The oxidation level obtained due to the d2w prodegradant catalyst was found to be of crucial importance in the degradation process.”

The report confirms studies by Queen Mary University London and France’s Station d’essais de Viellissement Naturel de Bandol, which applied different scientific techniques to prove biodegradation of d2w plastic in the marine environment, leaving no toxic residues, Symphony said. The study has dynamically combined and compared tests performed directly in marine conditions as well as in laboratory settings. Bacterial strains found in marine waters were used and incubated in marine waters under temperature conditions (>18oC) usually found in the ocean, according to Symphony’s announcement.

“The study has proved that plastic biodegradation processes observed in laboratory conditions are transferrable to real-life marine conditions,” said Symphony. “The scientists have specifically confirmed that accelerated weathering does not invalidate the results of the experiments.”

The rate of biodegradation and the ratio between biomass creation and CO2 production were also carefully studied.

Symphony Environmental announced in December 2020 that it was suing the European Union for damages that could amount to tens of millions of euros, relating to its decision to ban oxo-degradable products imposed through Article 5 of the Single-Use Plastics Directive.

According to Symphony, toxicity testing in Oxomar was more thorough than in any previous studies, and a wide variety of marine creatures at differing tropic levels were examined.

Symphony has a diverse and growing customer base and works with 77 distributors around the world. Products made with Symphony’s plastic technologies are now available in nearly 100 countries in many different applications. Symphony is certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

According to Symphony, its d2w is found in thousands of tons of plastic bags all over the world. This technology was developed to tackle the problem of plastic packaging that escapes collection for recycling and ends up in the open environment as litter, where it will biodegrade much more quickly than ordinary plastic.

According to Michael Laurier, CEO of Symphony Environmental: “No government or customer can now be in any doubt that oxo-biodegradable plastic (as distinct from oxo-degradable plastic) does properly biodegrade in the open environment and is not toxic. This is not, therefore, the type of material that the EU intended to prohibit and I trust that this and other scientific evidence will now dispel the confusion in the marketplace.”

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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