Right now your compost bin might be full of vegetable peelings and old teabags but in the future it could be full of plastic waste too. This is after researchers discovered a new type of compostable plastic.
The teams at University College Dublin (UCD) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) found that a new blend of biodegradable plastic can degrades under “typical home-composting conditions” - making it perfect for heaping on the garden.
Studying 15 different biodegradable plastics and mixtures of these plastics, the team looked at which had the greatest biodegrading potential in a range of different environments.
They found that blending together two types of biodegradable plastic .- polycaprolactone and polylactic acid - which typically need high temperatures for breakdown and so are not home-compostable, created a new type plastic that could be disposed of in a compost bin at home.
It is currently estimated that just 15% of the hundreds of millions of plastic bottles, films and cartons produced are recycled meaning both are destined for landfill or are littered, ending up in our oceans. The researchers say introducing compostable plastics opens up “exciting possibilities” for waste reduction.
Professor Kevin O’Connor, from UCD’s Bioeconomy Research Centre said: “Imagine putting your waste plastic packaging into a household composting bin that breaks down the plastic and produces compost for your garden or into your brown bin so that waste collection companies can mix the plastic with food waste and produce bio gas.”
Adding: “This is the future that this study suggests.”
And Dr Ramesh Babu, from TCD’s School of Physics, added: “Going forward we will see massive shift in the use of biodegradable polymers and our research opens up new and exciting possibilities that biodegradable plastics offer to society.
“We have shown for the first time that you can blend plastics together to make them more biodegradable”.