16 Jul 2021

Plastics designed to degrade on command

From Country Life, 9:17 pm on 16 July 2021
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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Scion is introducing enzymes into plastics that it says will enable them to degrade on command.

Dr Angelique Green says people want to move away from plastics but there are times when single-use plastics are required for sterility.

She says there are already bio-degradable plastics but her team wants to speed up the process.

"A lot of times there is slow degradation, a lot of the time you won't get complete degradation... so we want to make bio-degradable plastics better.

"Once the plastic is ready you put it into contact with water, moisture, your compost, something like that, and you'll see the plastic will go away much faster than regular bio-degradation.

Dr Greene says 500 micron plastic that includes the enzyme that triggers bio-degradation can take four days to disappear compared to a month without it.

She says the Scion team has been working with thin plastics but wants to introduce the technology to thicker, more durable plastics.