Scientific breakthrough proves innovative plastic film transforms into harmless wax when exposed to nature

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Imperial College London-based Polymateria has added to its growing list of peer-reviewed publications with new research proving that plastic film containing its innovative new Biotransformation technology transforms into a harmless wax when exposed to mother nature. By contrast, a conventional plastic tested to the same method simply fragmented into microplastic.

This latest peer-reviewed publication utilises international test methods for classifying waxes, lubricants and plastics through their ‘drop-point’ when heated to prove that in real-world conditions the Biotransformed plastic changes into a harmless wax, clearly demonstrating the difference with a microplastic. The benign wax-like material is bioavailable, enabling it to fully and quickly biodegrade leaving no trace in nature.

The research builds on previous peer-reviewed publications from Polymateria, including a recent study linking laboratory testing to real-world conditions in Florida. Florida conditions are equivalent to global hotspots of plastic pollution like Bangkok and Mumbai and is where approximately 50% of the global population live. Given the global nature of plastic pollution, the new research also includes a study correlating laboratory performance to real-world outdoor conditions in Southern France, selected due to the Mediterranean Sea containing the highest concentration of microplastics in the world[i]. 80% of plastics in the ocean are estimated to originate from unmanaged waste on land[ii].

At a global level, a staggering 32% of plastic packaging enters the natural environment as unmanaged waste[iii]. This means it is not even diverted to landfill or incinerated. The results of this study show that by including Polymateria’s technology, a plastic film that escapes into the natural environment will quickly and safely transform from a plastic to a wax which then biodegrades thereby avoiding the accumulation of plastic in our environment. Polyethylene plastic films are the most common source of plastic pollution.

As part of a considered plan to reduce our reliance on plastic, re-use materials where possible and recycle them where available, today’s announcement further enhances the place of Biotransformation as a key new tool to tackle the global plastic pollution crisis.


Niall Dunne, Polymateria CEO, said:

“In-line with our mission to advance science to help nature deal with the plastic pollution crisis, this latest peer reviewed research is another world first from Polymateria.

The study proves unequivocally the difference between transforming plastic into a harmless wax – as achieved through the inclusion of Polymateria’s technology – versus creating a microplastic when the material is exposed to mother nature.

The scientific evidence base behind our Biotransformation technology continues to grow as we break new ground in our fight to tackle this global environmental challenge.”

Technical note:

The full open-access peer-reviewed journal article can be accessed here: Polymers 202113(14), 2373; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13142373

The paper is to be cited as follows:

Moreira, C.; Lloyd, R.; Hill, G.; Huynh, F.; Trufasila, A.; Ly, F.; Sawal, H.; Wallis, C. Temperate UV-Accelerated Weathering Cycle Combined with HT-GPC Analysis and Drop Point Testing for Determining the Environmental Instability of Polyethylene Films. Polymers 202113, 2373. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13142373

The methods employed for the drop-point testing utilise established international standards for the classification of waxes, lubricants and plastics produced by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The standard references are ASTMD127-19 & ASTM D3954-15.

‘Drop-point’ testing allows for scientific measurement of the temperature at which a material drops (i.e. melts) when heated. Plastic materials have a ‘drop point’ of above 140oC; materials with a drop-point below 140oC are classified as waxes and not plastics.

In the testing, the material is attached to the end of a high-temperature glass thermometer. The thermometer is suspended in a closed glass vessel and immersed in a glycerol heating bath and heated at a rate of approx. 0.5 °C/min. The temperature at which a droplet of molten material drops from the wax is recorded.

For visual reference, the following can be observed when these methods are applied to a polyethylene film containing Polymateria’s technology and a control sample of ordinary polyethylene film:

Photo credit: Polymateria Ltd

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