Home/ News / India/  Biotransformation technology and its promise to turn plastics biodegradable- Explained

Our world has developed a strong reliance on plastic items, resulting in significant negative impacts on the environment, society, economy, and health. Around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said. With utility at such a large scale, alternate techniques have also been discovered as a UK-based startup now claims to develop a technology that can transform the state of plastics.

The Biotransformation Technology presents a new and innovative strategy for effectively and efficiently processing plastics that evade refusing streams resulting in their biodegradation. The term refuses stream refers to the flow of solid waste materials that are generated from various sources.

Imperial College in London, UK, and a Britain-based startup, Polymateria have co-developed the technology. The technology produces plastics that have a predetermined lifespan in which they maintain the appearance and quality of traditional plastics.

However, once this lifespan expires and they are exposed to the surrounding environment, they undergo a self-destructive process and biotransform into wax that is bioavailable. Microorganisms then consume this wax, leading to the conversion of waste into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass.

For plastics to undergo biodegradation, they must be consumed by microorganisms and converted into water, CO2, and biomass. The conditions for this process may vary based on the type of microorganisms involved in the cycle, ensuring a safe return to the environment. Polymateria has shown that our technology works in tropical, arid and temperate conditions, which is where roughly 90% of the world’s population lives.

How long does biotransformation take?

The company claims that the biotransformation process of plastic starts quite quickly in nature. It begins to transform plastic into a wax over a period of 2 to 4 months, which may vary based on the climate. “We have shown the full biodegradation process can take place in under a year," Polymateria’s statement said.

What is the additional cost of using the technology?

According to the company, the increase in cost is relatively small when compared to conventional plastic that does not contain Polymateria’s technology. In comparison, other alternative biodegradable solutions such as PLA, PHA can be several times the price of a regular polymer.

Gamechanger for the food and healthcare industry:

The technology can be used in many industries but will be particularly beneficial for the food and healthcare industry as they generate a significant proportion of plastic waste. Some companies are even using such technologies, but Biotransformation will work as a complete game changer in the efforts.

At a time when the world is producing around 400 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, such technologies can go a long way in providing an environment-friendly alternative to the dangerous plastic. The world is waking up to the problem, and governments, industry, and other stakeholders are starting to act.


Devesh Kumar
I cover politics, geo-politics, economy, and technology and have keen interest in understanding and analyzing the complex issues that shape our world. I am committed to delivering well-researched, balanced, and thought-provoking stories that provides insights into the key trends and developments.
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Updated: 30 Mar 2023, 06:08 PM IST
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