Biodegradable, water-soluble materials draw interest in applications for single-use plastics


MonoSol, LLC, a Kuraray Division, Merrillville, USA


Materials used in single-use plastics are have their fair share of issues especially with regards to end-of-use which are leading to such plastics accumulating as waste. Polyvinyl Alcohol offers a working solution for such issues due to its ideal profile of performing in use and then disappearing via biodegradation without the need for special facilities nor changing consumer habits. PVOH’s lifeline is explained starting from the cradle (where it is differentiated based on chemical modification) to its use in applications such as convenience-enabling detergent water-soluble pouches, and finally to the end-of-life via dissolution and biodegradation. Water-soluble PVOH films are also not a source of marine micro-plastics and combined with their diverse benefits could be the answer we are all looking for in today’s plastic-waste challenged environment.

The ever-increasing usage of plastics in our everyday lives and the consequent disposal into the environment has led to significant amounts of this generated plastic waste accumulating as litter and impacting the quality of our lives. Single-use plastics, including plastics bags, are facing legislative bans in numerous countries as a means of addressing this problem (1).

One of the solutions for this issue has been the use of biodegradable materials for single-use applications. But these materials have their own set of problems. For example, most biodegradable materials need special facilities (depending on the method of biodegradation such as industrial composting or aerobic digesters) and consequently need the consumers to be educated on how to dispose of such. If not disposed properly, these materials affect the recycling stream that is meant for conventional materials such as PP or PET or end up in landfill with the same end-of-life as a conventional material. Some municipalities have also stopped accepting biodegradable materials in composting facilities as they devalue the nutritional quality ...