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New Hub paper on the performance and environmental impacts of pro-oxidant additive containing plastics

Pro-oxidant additive containing (PAC) plastics is a term that describes a growing number of plastics which are designed to degrade in the unmanaged natural environment (open-air, soil, aquatic) through oxidation and other processes. It is a category that includes ‘oxo-degradable’ plastics, ‘oxo-biodegradable’ plastics and those containing ‘biotransformation’ additives. There is evidence that a new standard PAS 9017 : 2020 is relevant to predicting the timescale for abiotic degradation of PAC plastic in hot dry climates under ideal conditions (data reviewed for South of France and Florida). There are no reliable data to date to show that the PAS 9017 : 2020 predicts the timescale for abiotic degradation of PAC plastics in cool or wet climatic regions such as the UK or under less ideal conditions (soil burial, surface soiling etc.). Most PAC plastics studied in the literature showed biodegradability values in the range 5–60% and would not pass the criteria for biodegradability set in the new PAS 9017 : 2020. Possible formation of microplastics and cross-linking have been highlighted both by field studies and laboratory studies. Systematic eco-toxicity studies are needed to assess the possible effect of PAC additives and microplastics on the environment and biological organisms.

Paper available here.

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