Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about our TDPA® oxo-biodegradable plastic technology:

  1. Why use degradable?
  2. What are degradable and biodegradable plastics?
  3. Where can I buy TDPA® incorporated degradable and biodegradable plastic products?
  4. What is oxo-biodegradation?
  5. What are the main types of biodegradable plastics and how do they differ?
  6. What are the main benefits of TDPA® incorporated plastics?
  7. What products can be made degradable?
  8. How controllable is shelf life and service life?
  9. Does the method of disposal (e.g. landfill or soil) require the use of a different additive?
  10. Can TDPA® based plastics be recycled?
  11. Does the presence of TDPA® affect processability, output rate and the quality of the end product?
  12. How does TDPA® affect product performance?
  13. How does EPI ensure quality?
  14. What will trigger the breakdown of TDPA® product?
  15. What are the end products of biodegradation and do they have any harmful effect on the environment?
  16. Can TDPA® plastics be used for food contact applications?

1. Why use degradable?

By far the largest proportion of single use plastics such as those used in disposable packaging end their lives in landfills or, unfortunately, as litter. Conventional plastics can persist unchanged for many years in such environments. The same items made from plastics utilizing EPI’s proprietary TDPA® technology safely degrade and biodegrade within a few months to 2 - 3 years in these environments. In landfills, they reduce landfill volume and help maximize capacity utilization and they aid in landfill compression. While not a solution to littering, degradable plastics help in its management by avoiding accumulation of litter. There are also niche markets for example in agricultural mulch films where products using EPI technology bring large economic and environmental benefits.

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2. What are degradable and biodegradable plastics?

Degradable and biodegradable plastics are defined by ASTM D883-99 as follows:

Degradable Plastic: A plastic designed to undergo a significant change in its chemical structure under specific environmental conditions resulting in a loss of some properties that may vary as measured by standard test methods appropriate to the plastic and the application in a period of time that determines its classification.

Biodegradable Plastic: A degradable plastic in which the degradation results from the action of naturally-occurring micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae.

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3. Where can I buy TDPA® incorporated degradable and biodegradable plastic products?

Please contact us for details if you want to purchase TDPA® incorporated plastic products.

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4. What is oxo-biodegradation?

Oxo-biodegradation is a two-stage process in which a plastic is first converted by reaction with oxygen to molecular fragments that are water- wettable. Secondly, these smaller oxidized molecules are biodegraded and converted into carbon dioxide, water and biomass, by microorganisms. The rate at which this happens for conventional plastics is very slow, taking decades or even centuries. EPI’s TDPA® additives are catalysts that accelerate this reaction so that it occurs over a few months to a couple of years.

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5. What are the main types of biodegradable plastics and how do they differ?

There are 2 main types of biodegradable plastics: oxo-biodegradable and hydro-biodegradable. Both will first undergo chemical degradation by oxidation and hydrolysis for oxo- and hydro-biodegradable plastics respectively. This results in their physical disintegration and a drastic reduction in their molecular weights. These smaller, lower molecular weight fragments are then amenable to biodegradation.

Hydro-biodegradable plastics tend to degrade and biodegrade somewhat more quickly than oxo-biodegradable ones but the end result is the same – both are converted to carbon dioxide, water and biomass. Oxo-biodegradable plastics are generally less expensive, possess better physical properties and are easier to process on current plastics processing equipment than hydro-biodegradable plastics.

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6. What are the main benefits of TDPA® incorporated plastics?

  • Proven technology in the marketplace
  • Provide environmental benefits
  • Provide large economic benefits in some end uses
  • Cost effective
  • Claims are scientifically validated
  • Easy to convert using conventional equipment, processes and conditions
  • Same excellent physical properties as conventional plastics
  • Can be reused and recycled in existing recycle streams
  • Available immediately
  • Enhance a product brand name
  • Working with the pioneer and leader in oxo-biodegradable technology
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7. What products can be made degradable?

Products made from commodity plastics such as PE, PP and PS can be made degradable by incorporating TDPA® additives. Some commercial products that have successfully incorporating TDPA® include carrier bags, garbage bags, Ziplock bags, cling film, shrink-wraps and EPS trays.

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8. How controllable is shelf life and service life?

Information on product requirements such as storage conditions, disposal environment and expected degradation rate will enable EPI to give the best recommendation; TDPA® additives are manufactured in a range of formulations and incorporated at various concentrations in order to control product shelf life and service life.

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9. Does the method of disposal (e.g. landfill or soil) require the use of a different additive?

Yes, different disposal methods require the use of different TDPA® formulations specific to the conditions of the disposal environment and the desired degradation performance. EPI can make recommendations for the most suitable formulation.

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10. Can TDPA® based plastics be recycled?

Yes, provided the recycled plastics have not started to degrade. EPI recommends the use of up to 50% of in-house recycled materials, whether the recyclates contain TDPA® or not when making new degradable or non-degradable products. Generally, we do not recommend the use of post-consumer recycled materials which are often contaminated and inconsistent in quality when making degradable products. Customers who choose to use post-consumer recycled materials are advised to use their judgment to decide on the amount without compromising the quality of the finished product.

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11. Does the presence of TDPA® affect processability, output rate and the quality of the end product?

The presence of TDPA® does not affect processability, output rate or quality of end product and are processed using the same equipment as plastics without the additive.

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12. How does TDPA® affect product performance?

Prior to the onset of degradation and disposal, products incorporating TDPA® will have virtually identical performance to those without the additive. Products with TDPA® are engineered to have a predetermined life and have a designated “use before” date.

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13. How does EPI ensure quality?

EPI’s operates a specialized laboratory that performs a variety of chemical, physical and mechanical tests using standard ASTM test methods on products manufactured with TDPA® formulations. This ensures that customers receive optimum formulations that perform as specified. Typically, disposal conditions are simulated in QUV weather accelerating equipment and aging ovens and samples from these are tested using plastometers, tensile testing equipment and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR).

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14. What will trigger the breakdown of TDPA® product?

The breakdown of TDPA® incorporated products is triggered by oxidation and occurs only if oxygen is present. Sunlight and heat will synergistically accelerate the breakdown (degradation process).

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15. What are the end products of biodegradation and do they have any harmful effect on the environment?

The end products of biodegradation are carbon dioxide, water and biomass. Extensive studies and tests have been conducted by EPI with internationally recognized laboratories and institutions to confirm that they do not leave harmful or toxic residues to the environment.

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16. Can TDPA® plastics be used for food contact applications?

Yes. TDPA® additives comply with FDA, EFSA and CFIA requirements in the US, Europe and Canada respectively and are safe for food contact applications.

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