TDPA®: Totally Degradable Plastic Additive
Because traditional plastics are very stable and not readily degradable and biodegradable in the environment, discarded plastics represent a significant environmental problem, both as litter and as solid waste in landfills. As litter, disposable plastic products (in particular, plastic bags) are a visible and widespread pollutant, and a threat to animal and marine species and to human health. In landfills, they add to landfill volume, hinder landfill compaction and delay the biodegradation of discarded organic materials, thereby fostering the formation of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Plastics that would degrade and biodegrade relatively quickly to non-toxic end products in these disposal environments would be a welcome step in managing these issues.
Over the last two to three decades, companies in the plastics industry have developed various approaches to make degradable and biodegradable plastic products that process and perform equivalently to inexpensive and widely-used commodity plastics. The intent has been to develop a degradable and biodegradable plastic that is as functional as commodity plastics, but that would degrade and biodegrade relatively quickly in a disposal environment (litter, landfill, compost, water soil). EPI’s proven TDPA® technology is the most practical and economical way available today to accomplish these objectives.
Biodegradable additive TDPA®, when added in small quantities to the most common and widely used commodity resins during the manufacture of finished plastic products, causes the modified plastic to degrade at a controlled rate. The degradation, which involves the reaction of the plastic with oxygen in the air, is initiated by exposure to ultraviolet light (sunlight), elevated temperatures and/or mechanical stress. It is “programmed” to start degradation on disposal after the product has fulfilled the required shelf and service lives as defined by end users. Products made with polyethylene (such as grocery, shopping and garbage bags), have been shown to subsequently be biodegradable into non-toxic end products.
Biodegradable plastics incorporating TDPA® is processed, performs and are visually indistinguishable from conventional non-degradable plastic materials. They are cost-competitive. They are also compatible with existing recycling operations and can be safely co-mingled with conventional plastic inputs prior to the onset of degradation.
TDPA® biodegradable plastic products are food contact compliant and meet applicable US, Canadian and European standards. The compliance is supported by scientific testing and published test reports that enable EPI to provide legitimate environmental claim statements. Published work has also demonstrated that composts made from plastics incorporating TDPA® has no toxic effect on sensitive plant or animal life.