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Banning plastics is not a solution

By Sunil Panwar, CEO, Symphony Environmental India

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, about 85% of plastics turn into unregulated waste reaching oceans and landfills, and only 10% of plastics ever produced globally have ever been recycled. Banning plastics is not a solution. The answer today comes in designing and producing a better version of biodegradable plastics.

One such technology, d2w, uses pro-degradant in the form of masterbatch which is added 1% by weight while manufacturing plastic packaging materials, using the existing production processes. These modern plastics with d2W additives remain 100% recyclable. However, if the packaging material ends up becoming single-use plastic, the packaging material biodegrades in less than two years. At the end of the useful life of the packaging material, the d2W additive turns material into CO2, water and biomass. This degradation process is not as simple as fragmentation or disintegration but goes beyond.


The product changes from a long chain polymer of high molecular weight into low molecular weight monomers or oligomeric fragments and oxygen-containing molecules. It subsequently becomes bio-assimilation food for microorganisms like naturally present bacteria and fungi in soil or aquatic environments. At that stage, it is no longer plastic and has become an inherently biodegradable material and absorbs water. The substance left behind is nothing more than biomass, water and carbon dioxide (in very small quantities).


d2w technology has been tested as per ASTM D6954 standard at a BIS accredited laboratory in India. Testing is underway as per IS 17899 T:2022, which is a tentative provision issued by BIS in June 2022. Other tests are in process.

It is also pertinent to state that BIS IS 17899 T:2022 is a tentative standard and was urgently brought out without complete reviews. BIS may adopt an established global test standard like ASTM D6954 until they finalise their own standard to offer manufacturers provisional certificates. Interestingly, ASTM D6954 standard already considers factors like molecular weight reduction to 5,000 Da and a 95% loss in mechanical properties in abiotic degradation and seeks only 60% biodegradation.

Ground reality

The number of producers of plastic packaging materials are very large and additive suppliers are few. Therefore, the supplier of biodegradable additives can be certified by CPCB, reducing the cost burden, technical hassle and risk factor on the local plastic manufacturers. The producer, who uses this approved additive, can get certified.

The cost of testing is anywhere between ₹4.5-5.5 lakhs, leaving them in a two year-plus limbo of uncertainty without provisional manufacturing reliefs. To ameliorate the situation, an alternate criterion for reducing biodegradability test duration or adopting an existing global test standard like ASTM D6954 exists.

Why plastic?

India has more than 150,000 plastic manufacturing units. Out of this, about 1,30,253 plastic manufacturing units come under the MSME sector, which employ nearly 16 lakh workers.

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