Page 20 - Packaging News Magazine Nov-Dec 2021
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SUSTAINABILITY | SPONSORED | November-December 2021
 Biogone founder explains new tech
Local Melbourne-based business, Biogone, has brought to market an organic additive that it says will help plastic biodegrade 90 per cent faster than conventional plastics when it’s disposed of in a modern landfill. Co-founder of Biogone, Dr Ross Headifen, explains here how the technology works,
Uand where he believes its value lies.
NLIKE the degradable chemical microbes can then digest them too. additive that causes plastic to Plastic is one of the most inert mate- break up into microplastics in air rials around and so this process is still and sunlight, Biogone’s technol- slow compared to a piece of paper bio- ogy is not triggering a chemical degrading away, but at over 90 per cent but rather a biological process. faster (so cutting it down to 10-30 years), It is using an organic additive this is where the technology offers the which is a special food source most pronounced impact. The byprod-
Biogone’s organic additive is inert and added in a very small amount. It does not change the properties of the plastic for any product design considerations and means product manufacturers can use the additive to make biodegradable versions of their products without having to change any of their machinery. Also, this means the plastic is fully mainstream recyclable and has the same recycla- ble properties as conventional plastics. Recycling of Biogone soft plastics has the endorsement of REDcycle.
Unlike a metal, plastic cannot be mechanically recycled time and time again. After just a few recycles, its properties are so compromised it needs to be blended with virgin mate- rial or discarded. If it is discarded, then Biogone technology allows it to biodegrade away and in many situa- tions, allows its embodied energy to be captured and used.
The current rate of plastic recycling in Australia is approximately 13 per cent, which means more than 85 per cent is ending up in landfill and generating plastic waste. While the industry works towards building the recycling and pro- cessing infrastructure that the 2025 National Packaging Targets are aspir- ing to get us to, there will still be plastic build-up in landfills for many years yet, which is what Biogone is aiming to reduce with each product we create.
Incorporating Biogone landfill- biodegradable technology is like an insurance policy that, if the plastic is not recycled, it will allow the plastic to biodegrade away when it is even- tually disposed to a landfill and the waste can be converted to energy.
Biogone also offers a parallel range of home compostable products for those that prefer plant-based materi- als. These product cannot be recycled mainstream but do biodegrade faster in landfills.
The Biogone product range has been handpicked from global sources to offer landfill-biodegradable pack- aging and shipping materials to the market. Biogone believes this is a good solution while we advance the plastic recycling industry and move towards a more complete circular economy. ■
Find out more about the product range at
  for microbes. It is mixed in with the raw plastic material at product for- mation time. The inert additive lies alongside the polymer chains and has no impact on them. The plastic retains all its original mechanical properties, such as strength, colour, waterproof- ness, shelf life and recyclability.
However, independent testing shows the big difference between a Biogone plastic and a conventional plastic becomes apparent when the plastic is disposed to a microbe-rich landfill. There, the naturally occur- ring microbes seek out the food and start to digest it. No air or sunlight is required, which means the biodegra- dation can occur at all locations in a landfill. The enzymes the microbes secrete in that process, break the surface polymer chains down so the
ucts of this biological breakdown is a humus-like sludge, that is an excellent soil conditioner, and a biogas carbon dioxide (aerobic conditions) or methane (anaerobic conditions).
A conventional plastic will take many hundreds of years to break down, all the while slowly releas- ing biogas to the atmosphere. With a Biogone plastic, as verified by test- ing, the accelerated biodegradation rate means the methane gas is given off over a much shorter time. This allows the gas to be captured within the lifetime during which a landfill is actively managed. (Most capital cities in Australia use landfills that actively capture the landfill gas and use it.) This gas can then be used to gener- ate electricity, displacing the need for electricity produced by fossil fuels.
Biogone says its products can be recycled conventionally but also offer a landfill- biodegradable solution should the plastic end up in landfill.

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