A typical film from Innovative Film Solutions
The Spanish company Innovative Film Solutions has developed a technique in which enzymes are used to break down plastic films and which enables both composting and recycling of the film.
The REBICOM (REcyclable, BIodegradable and COMpostable film) project was funded by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union.
Innovative Film Solutions led the project that developed a new range of plastic films that incorporate enzymatic technologies that accelerate the breakdown of the plastic so that it is recyclable, biodegradable or compostable.
The researchers encapsulated certain enzyme complexes in a polyolefin matrix to obtain a masterbatch that was incorporated into the formulation of plastic films during the production process.
The technology was then tested on a scale and prototype films were produced that comply with the EN 13432 standard and European legislation for materials in contact with food. Potentially, these new films can be biodegradable, compostable, or recycled using current plastic recycling technologies.
REBICOM coordinator Joaquín Buendía said: “It takes hundreds, if not thousands of years for plastics to decompose and break down into smaller and smaller pieces. The addition of certain compounds to plastics could serve as a culture for microorganisms. The enzymes secreted by organisms initiate the depolymerization of the material, feed on carbon bonds and thus accelerate biodegradation.
“The plastic films carry an inactive charge that is 100% recyclable. If these plastic films end up in contact with microorganisms in the environment, their loading triggers an enzymatic reaction which, at the right temperature and humidity, converts them into biodegradable ones in a relatively short time. “