Biotransformation Technology

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    In News

    • A UK-based startup claims to have developed a Biotransformation Technology that could alter the state of plastics and make them biodegradable without leaving behind any microplastics

    About Biotransformation Technology

    • It is a novel approach to ensure plastics that escape refuse streams are processed efficiently and broken down. 
    • It was co-developed by the Imperial College in London, UK, and a Britain-based startup, Polymateria.
    • The technology would digest the plastics packaging waste naturally with the help of microbes and biodegrade the waste without leaving behind any microplastics.
    • This biotransformation technology is the world’s first that ensures polyolefins fully biodegrade in an open environment causing no microplastics.

     How it works

     

    Image Courtesy: polymateria

    • Plastics made using this technology are given a pre-programmed time during which the manufactured material looks and feels like conventional plastics without compromising on quality. 
    • Once the product expires and is exposed to the external environment, it self-destructs and biotransforms into bioavailable wax. 
    • This wax is then consumed by microorganisms, converting waste into water, CO2, and biomass.

    Applications 

    • Food packaging and healthcare industries are the two prime sectors that could use this technology to reduce waste. 
    • The increase in cost is relatively small compared to conventional plastic that does not contain” this technology.

    Usage in India

    • Some well-known Indian firms in the food and packaging industries deploy such technologies. 
    • Within the healthcare and pharma industries, this technology provides biodegradable solutions for non-woven hygiene products like diapers, sanitary napkins, facial pads, etc.

    Other initiatives of India 

    • Government introduced a plastic waste management gazette to help tackle the ever-growing plastic pollution caused by single-use plastics.
    • In 2022, the Indian government imposed a ban on single-use plastics to bring a stop to their use in the country.
    • The National Dashboard on Elimination of Single-Use Plastic and Plastic Waste Management brings all stakeholders together to track the progress made in eliminating single-use plastic and effectively managing such waste.
    • An Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) portal helps in improving accountability traceability and facilitating ease of compliance reporting in relation to EPR obligations of the producers, importers, and brand-owners.
    • India has also developed a mobile app to report single-use plastics grievances to check the sale, usage or manufacturing of single-use plastics in their area.

    Other alternatives to reducing plastic waste

    • A switch to jute or paper-based packaging could potentially cut down plastic waste. This could also build sustainability within the paper industry, and save on the import bill for ethylene solutions. 
    • Wooden packaging is yet another alternative, but that will make the packaging bulkier and increase the cost.

    Do you Know ?

    • As per 2022 data, India is generating around 3.5 billion kgs of plastic waste annually and the per capita plastic waste generation has also doubled in the past five years. Of this, a third comes from packaging waste.
    • In 2019, plastic packaging waste from e-commerce firms was estimated at over a billion kilograms worldwide, according to Statista.
    • A joint research project by the Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi, and Sea Movement noted that Amazon generated nearly 210 million kgs (465 million pounds) of plastic from packaging waste in 2019.