Innovative Film Solutions, working towards innovation in sustainable plastic recycling, has created an enzyme-based technique which allows plastic waste to be both composted and recycled.
The firm has created a new range of plastic films which contain enzymes to catalyse the breakdown of plastic. The film has been named REBICOM, as the process will enable the plastic film to be REcyclable, BIodegradable or COMpostable. The plastic film would carry an inactive load of enzymes. When the films are in contact with microorganisms, an enzymatic reaction is triggered which converts the film into biodegradable product.
The researchers placed certain types of enzyme complexes into a polyolefin matric. This matrix was then incorporated into the production phase of the plastic films. From here, the process continued to grow, making multiple prototypes to meet the EN 13432 standard, and the EU legislation for food contact materials.
“Plastics take hundreds if not thousands of years to degrade, breaking down into ever-smaller pieces,” explains REBICOM coordinator, Joaquín Buendía. “Adding certain compounds to plastics could act as a culture for microorganisms. The enzymes secreted by organisms initiate material depolymerisation, feed on carbon bonds, thereby speeding up biodegradation.”