d2w – degradable plastics

I’ve been seeing the “d2w™-degradable” label on a few products lately, so I thought I’d check them out.

d2w™ is a registered trademark of Symphony Plastics and used to identify a range of degradable plastic products. When included in the normal manufacturing process, d2w causes plastics to break down into water, carbon dioxide and a small amount of biomass.

Plastics cause all sorts of havoc in the environment, partly because they take so long to break down and what they break down into can be toxic. Small pieces of plastic are often consumed by animals confusing the items as food. For example, About 96% of dead fulmars (a type of seabird) in Orkney, Scotland were found to have an average of 28 pieces of plastic waste in their stomachs.

Plastics with the d2w™ pro-degradant additive don’t need microbes to start breaking down. The company claims this ‘totally degradable’ plastic is superior to ‘bio-degradable’ which requires the plastic to be in a biologically active environment before degradation starts.

Degradation rates can also be made to order – by that, I mean the amount of time it takes for an item to start breaking down can be factored into the production. For example, a shopping bag may require a usable life of a year or so whereas a bread bag might only require a few weeks.

Some of the other claimed advantages of d2w™:

– Very low price
– Maintains all plastic properties
– Good barrier properties
– Easy processing

A quick look at the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) didn’t reveal a lot about what d2w™ actually is, but it doesn’t appear too nasty, in fact, “Product is non-toxic by composition”.

The d2w™ web site is very pro-plastic and I get the impression that Symphony Plastics see their additive as a panacea to the plastic problem; but while it may not be that, it could go a long way to decreasing the impact of the crude-oil derived plastics that we’ll need to keep using for some time to come.