San Fran startup Intropic Materials is manufacturing a truly biodegradable plastic: one that is home compostable—unlike bioplastics that only compost at 100°C special facilities (and barely any ever make it there).
The new material will break down within weeks, the exact time frame depends on the temperature. Why? Because enzymes are the genius addition to this plastic.
“Since enzymes are trapped inside the plastic, they grab hold and start pulling the polymerchains one by one, cutting them into small molecules that are really easy to break down by microbes”—Aaron Hall, founder
The enzymes need to be activated by the right conditions: humidity and temperature, once triggered the plastic will self-degrade into biodegradable or chemically recyclable small molecules.
What’s the science behind it?
In the soil microbes use these same enzymes to slowly “eat” biodegradeable plastic alternatives. The difference with intropic materials is that the enzymes are already in the plastic, ready to work.
What about microplastics?
The embedded enzymes break down plastic completely, chomping from one polymer chain to the next, this ensures that no microplastic remains.