Plastic will survive forever in landfill, or, if it is burnt, it can release toxic and carcinogenic particles into the atmosphere.
But Australian company Plantic says you only have to add water to its plastic and it will disappear in front of your eyes. The formula comprises 90 percent corn starch and a number of other organic materials, including water, fatty acid and oil. Starch-based plastics are not a new concept, but Plantic is different.
“If I do this,” says Mark Fink pouring water on the product, “and count to three it starts to disappear, which is exciting. It’s not dissolving, it’s dispersing.”
When placed on the compost heap, Plantic will disappear within three months — releasing water into the soil and carbon dioxide into the air. Best feature of the product is that it’s probably the first of the biodegradable plastics to be truly price competitive.
Only 10 grams of corn kernels are needed to make a 10 gram biscuit tray so Plantic do not need to worry about the rise of oil prices as do manufacturers of standard petrochemical-based plastics.
“The long-term pricing of petrochemical (plastics) is slowly increasing over time — it’s a finite resource — the long-term pricing of crops, starch, is always decreasing,” Fink says.
The company is now developing a more water-resistant version of the tray, for a tray that disappears in water is good for publicity, but has limited uses.