Why we should be Patient in the Oxo-Biodegradation Process?

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Author: Dr. Soheyl Khajehpour-Tadavani

World’s Concern of the Plastic Waste

Annually, high amounts of plastic waste accumulate everywhere which is accessible to the people. Most of us use many kinds of plastics such as food packaging, shopping bags, containers, films etc. Hence, the problems coupled with plastic accumulation must be solved since approximately 8 billion tons of plastics have been produced in just 60 years, and this production amount is exponentially growing. Moreover, all of these plastics are still existing in one form or another, as we do not have a global scale and appropriate mechanisms for effectively managing the plastic waste, as Figure 1 depicts this catastrophic issue.

Figure 1: Plastics waste.

One of the effective ways to reduce the world’s concern of waste plastics is Biodegradation and, more specifically, by using Oxo-Biodegradation. This kind of degradation consists of using pro-oxidants (pro-degradants) compounds which can induce degradation in the polymer backbone. Preferred examples of these additives are manganese stearate, manganese oleate, manganese acetate, cobalt acetate, cobalt stearate, cupric oleate, and ferric acetate. Pro-oxidant spices are added at low concentrations in the formulation of conventional polymer resins almost without changing their original mechanical and optical properties.

Oxo-Biodegradation consists of Abiotic and Biotic stages. The former uses ultraviolet light (UV), heat, or mechanical stress to promote the oxidation process. The latter relies on breaking the molecular chain by oxidation so that the molecular weight becomes low enough to allow the action of microorganisms of the ecosystem where the plastic product was laid (Biotic degradation or Biodegradation). The best standard guide for exposing and testing plastics that degrade in the environment by a combination of oxidation and biodegradation is ASTM D6954-18 which discusses this kind of degradation, completely.

A Common Aspect for all kinds of Degradation Process

The prominent factor in all kinds of degradation processes is time. While there are lots of key points in the degradation procedures, maybe their common specific aspect is the time consumption. Not only all kinds of degradation require lots of effort to get good and appropriate results at the end of any experimental procedure, but also, these outcomes are a result of time enduring. Hence, it is very regular when a degradation paper mentions a long-lasting time range in its progress which illustrates the nature of this kind of technique. Nevertheless, all types of degradation processes are expensive. So, it is worth a try to make Oxo-Biodegradable plastic materials for reducing plastic wastes in the environment.

In addition, it is important to pay attention to the kind of waste commodities gathering in a large area among which most of them may not contain oxo-compounds in their formulation. Under such condition, there are lots of litter which do not have any indications in their appearance as depicted in Figure 1. Consequently, everyday we encounter the harsh situation without considering background story of the long time needed for Oxo-Biodegradation process and the story of ordinary plastic wastes materials. Accordingly, it is crucial to mention and pay attention to this specific fact whenever a report or media publishes against polymeric waste materials.

Conclusion

Time is a key factor in all kinds of degradation processes such as Oxo-Biodegradation. It is vital to be patient for getting suitable results from each kind of degradation. Also, we should consider differences in polymeric waste materials. Most of the plastic waste does not contain additives which can initiate or accelerate the degradation process. Absence of such additives in the plastics prolong their accumulation in the environment.


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