BioSphere Biodegradable Additive Questions & Answers

Which polymers can BioSphere be added to?

BioSphere can be added to almost all commercially available polymers as the additive is a compound of active ingredients and does not have a carrier resin. There are special grades for PET sheet and blow moulding applications and a “general purpose” grade for all other materials.

What is the recommended addition rate for BioSphere?

The recommended addition rate is 1%. Higher addition rates, of up to 5%, can be used which will speed up the biodegradation. It should be noted that the effect is not linear ie at 2% the product will not biodegrade in half of the time of a product containing 1%.

Do products with BioSphere leave any microplastics behind when they biodegrade?

The short answer is NO. Biodegradation takes place by microbes consuming and digesting the plastic. The microbes will consume all of the plastic which means no microplastics are left. What is left at the end is biomass and water but no plastic.

In what form is BioSphere supplied?

The majority of BioSphere grades come in a pellet form which is added as any other masterbatch. For certain, specialist applications, there is a liquid version.

If I want to verify the speed of biodegradation of my product which standard should I test to?

The most relevant standard to test to would be ISO 15985 and/or ASTM D5511. These are essentially the same standard and replicate what would happen in a land-fill environment.

Another standard which may also be considered is ASTM D6691 – 17 which replicates a marine environment.

Is a polymer incorporating BioSphere considered biodegradable as opposed to degradable as there is a big difference?

Biodegradable is different to degradable.

Products incorporating 1% of BioSphere additive are biodegradable.

How does BioSphere work?

We are often asked how does BioSphere make plastics biodegrade.

Biodegradation only takes place when the product containing the additive is exposed to naturally occurring microbial action.

In simple terms products containing BioSphere attract naturally occurring microbes in such as landfill. Biosphere allows enzymes secreted by these microbes to react with the polymer breaking down the polymer chain. This enables the microbes to easily digest the plastic material breaking it down into CO2 Methane and biomass. This is the same as with any other organic matter.

Biosphere has been designed to go into products which will go into landfill, but also works in compost or seawater situations.

For a more technical explanation see the BioSphere website:

What effect does BioSphere have on the mechanical strength/ stability/ shelf life etc of products?

The in-use properties of products incorporating BioSphere are not affected.

This includes properties such as UV resistance, tensile strength, shelf life etc.

Biodegradation can/will only take place when the product comes into prolonged contact with the active microbes which naturally occur in such as landfill or marine environments.

Does BioSphere meet any standards for biodegradation?

BioSphere also complies with several recognised ASTM and ISO standards for biodegradation.

We can supply a certificate which outlines the standards products containing BioSphere meet.

Can BioSphere be used for manufacture of multi layer film?

BioSphere can be used in multilayer film. To biodegrade fully the additive would need to be added to each layer, including any tie-layers, at the recomended 1%.

Is BioSphere only for disposable items?

As biodegradation only takes place when the part comes into contact with active microbes in land-fill or a similar environment BioSphere can be used for items which are not single use. 

An example of this type of product is as below.

Does adding BioSphere to a plastic part affect its ability to be recycled?

The short answer is NO. The additive does not affect the properties of the plastic except when it comes into long term contact with microbes in the soil. It can, therefore, go through normal recycling channels without any negative effects. This makes it different to the majority of other biodegradable products on the market.

Can you make a plastic biodegradable?

For the majority of plastics the answer is YES – How do you make a plastic biodegradable? by adding 1% of BioSphere additive. By doing so the speed at which it will biodegrade is accelerated by up to 200x. This means a plastic which would normally take 600 years to biodegrade can take as little as 3 years.

Is BioSphere an Oxo-degradable additive?
NO – Oxo-degradable products fragment into smaller pieces (micro particles) when exposed to UV light. This is not true biodegradation. Products containing BioSphere truly biodegrade when they come into contact with active microbes leaving behind just biomass and water. UV light does not affect products containing BioSphere. Our newsletter page explains the difference between various products which claim to be biodegradable.
Which plastics are biodegradable?

All plastics are biodegradable, It is the speed at which they biodegrade which is the issue as it can take hundreds and even thousands of years. Adding BioSphere helps accelerate this biodegradation by up to 200x. This means a plastic which would normally take 1000 years to biodegrade may take as little as 5 years

Is there such a thing as a biodegradable polypropylene?

Adding BioSphere to polypropylene will make it biodegrade up to 200x faster than it would without. It would, therefore be considered as biodegradable.

Are there any problems with biodegradable plastics?

Most if not all biodegradable plastics have problems associated with them. They are generally not recyclable and would not be considered biodegradable by the general public as they need to end up in a very specific environment to biodegrade. Those based on PLA for example will only biodegrade in an industrial compost facility. In other “normal” environments they do not biodegrade at all. Others (known as OXO-biodegradble) do not really biodegrade at all but only fragment into micro plastics.

BioSphere is different in that it is an additive which when used in normal plastic would fit with most peoples idea of what biodegrade means i.e. it will biodegrade if dumped using normal refuse disposal systems. The way it works means the plastic can still be recycled unlike the others – therefore offering the best of both worlds.

Want to know more click which explains the different types of materials marketed as biodegradable plastics. 

Do you have another question? Give us a call on on 0161 624 2114 or complete our contact form and we’ll get back to you with an answer.