(NaturalNews) Every year, more than 100 billion plastic bottles are dumped into landfills, where they can take hundreds or even thousands of years to begin breaking down. In many cases, these plastic bottles never fully break down because traditional plastic materials are inedible to the soil microbes responsible for carrying out decomposition. But a plastics company out of Arizona has developed a natural solution that it says makes everyday plastic bottles fully biodegradable, and much more environmentally friendly.
The company is known as ENSO Plastics, and its products appear to be revolutionary as far as plastics technology is concerned. Not only can plastics manufacturers seamlessly integrate ENSO solutions into their existing technologies without altering the durability, shelf-life, and appearance of their products, but they can also count on the fact that all their plastic products will still be fully recyclable, and will not disrupt or contaminate existing recycling streams.
How does it work? According to the company, a proprietary blend of organic materials and a polymer carrier alters the composition of standard plastic components, making them more appealing to the billions of microorganisms found in nature. When ENSO's blend is mixed with these plastic components during manufacturing, the end product looks, feels, and functions the same as traditional plastics, except for the fact that it is fully biodegradable.
"ENSO is comprised of organic materials designed to attract microbial activity," explains the company about its product. "These microorganisms upon consuming the ENSO material excrete enzymes that weaken and depolymerize the plastic. The final result is biogases and inert humus."
Independent tests reveal ENSO plastics biodegrade significantly after just a few months in the landfill
According to third-party tests, ENSO-enhanced plastics were found to biodegrade by nearly 25 percent in just 160 days, under optimized conditions. This is noteworthy, as typical plastic bottles remain largely unaltered in landfills for years and years. And the best part is that ENSO-enhanced plastics end up becoming a type of soil compost and fertilizer as a result of their natural breakdown.
"Unlike competing products, ENSO accelerates the natural biodegradation of plastics in biologically active landfills and anaerobic digesters as validated by independent certified laboratories using internationally recognized test methods," adds the company.
Such competing products include oxo-degradable additives and corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) plastics, both of which can be problematic. The former makes plastics susceptible to breakdown from light and oxygen, and could pose contamination problems with dangerous heavy metals. And the latter can reduce the physical properties of plastics and costs more than traditional polymers.
ENSO, on the other hand, is unique in that it does not alter any of the desired characteristics of plastics during their use, but completely transforms how plastics impact the environment after disposal. And unlike many other plastic technologies, ENSO-enhanced plastics can be recycled just like any other standard plastic product, and do not biodegrade while in inventory or on the shelf.