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Biolefin · 100% Biodegradable Plastic Shrink Wrap
BY Reef Repair | August 20, 2019
Environment

About Biolefin Biodegradable Heat & Shrink Wrap Plastic

Summary

Biolefin TM is a 100% biodegradable (Oxo-biodegradable) plastic shrink wrap that quickly bio-degrades into food for bacteria and other micro-organism’s after entering the environment. It does not degrade into micro plastics!

Let us ask you this, what if there was a plastic that breaks down into plant food and biomass in the space of 1 – 3 years instead of 300 – 600 years. Would your current attitude toward plastics change?

Plastic waste harms our oceans and is completely unnecessary
Plastic waste harms our oceans and most of it is completely unnecessary!

Is Biolefin TM 100% biodegradable plastic the answer to our worlds plastic woes?

Plastics Are Not The Problem!

What everyone seems to conveniently forget about plastics is that they saved us from a post-apocalyptic, strip-mined, barren and possibly dead planet. To put it all in perspective, “Humans have made 8.3bn tons of plastic since 1950” [8].

If we tried to produce the volume of plastic we have created over the last 50 years using alternatives such as glass, Aluminium or paper, we would have literally strip-mined every beach, forest and Bauxite deposit (Aluminium) the world over. Reef Repair

We would all be choking violently on runaway CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions that far outweigh what we have already contributed. Remember, CO2 is bad and we are literally killing ourselves with the volume of it we already contribute to the earth each year, so more CO2 is a negative thing regardless of the outcome.

Co2 life cycle info-graphic - Plastic vs glass vs aluminium
CO2 life cycle – Plastic vs Glass vs Aluminium

If we had of made 8.3bn tons of Aluminium instead of plastic, we would have also produced four times the amount of CO2, glass is not that much better and that really just leaves us with plastics.

Plastic production is simply not the problem, it is how we deal with plastic after we are done using it and our over-use of it that is the real issue threatening our environment and marine life.

Normal Plastics Last For Hundreds of Years

We are not debating whether plastics in our environment are a big problem, they most certainly are! This is due in part to their unique ability to not biodegrade, and even when they begin to breakdown, they breakdown into smaller environmentally toxic pieces called microplastics. Those microplastics have now entered our human food chain [2], and that’s bad.

To put something complex into very simple terms. We are all very much responsible for the plastics choking our oceans, rivers, and waterways. We were the ones who threw it away into trash bins, landfills, and rivers where it has now become a worldwide problem.

Biodegradability timeline for common plastic items
Biodegradability timeline for common plastic items
– futurism.com [3]

This is why the war on plastic began in earnest, use less plastic thereby protecting our environment and marine life, seems simple right? Except for the fact that the war on plastic has got out of hand in a big way and suddenly, all plastics, regardless of type or function have come under heavy fire.

That is where we went wrong a second time; because what we dutifully need to remember is this…

Important:

Not all plastics are created equal!

Enter Biolefin TM Biodegradable Plastic

We asked earlier in this article whether or not your opinion on plastics would change if there was a plastic…

  • That biodegraded completely in just a handful of years instead of hundreds?
  • That biodegrades safely into plant food instead of into toxic microplastics?

Whether you answered yes or no is important here, because we as humans are always going to need plastics. There is no going back to a pre-plastic era, from now until likely forever (pun intended), plastic is going to be a big part of our lives.

100% biodegradable food safe plastic
100% biodegradable food safe plastic
– nationalshrinkwrap.com [1]

So is Biolefin TM an environmentally responsible plastic that won’t persist in the environment? Won’t choke marine life to death in our oceans? Doesn’t poison us if it accidentally enters the food chain?

Let’s get sciency on Biolefin TM 100% biodegradable plastic.

Biolefin TM – Firstly, What Is It?

At the end of the day, Biolefin is plastic. It is made from a combination of component materials…

  • POLYPROPYLENE 30 to 45%
  • POLYETHYLENE 50 to 65%
  • Other Additives: 5%

Polypropylene and Polyethylene come from the petrochemical industry and are what your shopping bags and many other common household single-use plastics are made from. So this isn’t an ideal start, if the mix were 100% made from those first two petrochemicals, we’d simply have a normal plastic that persists for up to 500 years in the environment.

But, Biolefin TM is very different. Biolefin contains an additive that turns a normally environmentally persistent plastic into one that biodegrades harmlessly in record time and breaks down into harmless elements and biomass, instead of micropollutants.

This additive is known as Reverte TM and in the interest of brevity you can find out way more about it via that link.

Biolefin TM – The Science

Normal plastics can’t effectively be eaten by microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae because most normal plastics have something called “long strand polymer chains” binding them together. This gives plastic its stretchability and strength, but it also makes it impossible for the environment to deal with them naturally.

The Reverte TM additive simply helps turn long strand polymer chains into much smaller lengths, by…

Reducing the chain length of the polymer … making it brittle and non-plastic. The biodegradability aspect refers to the conversion of these strands … to much lower lengths … for conversion by bacteria into biomass. What is Reverte

Simply put, the Reverte additive breaks down the plastic structure into bite-sized pieces for bacteria and micro-organisms to deal with, as nature intended. In so doing, converting into base elements like H2O (water) and biomass, that harmlessly enters back into the soil or environment [5].

But it gets even better!

Biolefin TM – Is Oxo-Biodegradable

What the heck does “Oxo-Biodegradable” mean? Well it sort of means this, for our non-science readers.

Oxo-biodegradable plastic products are bio-assimilated in the same way as nature’s own wastes. What is Reverte [5]

Meaning that Oxo-Biodegradable products will be broken down without any other external inputs other than what nature would inflict upon ‘set plastic item’ normally, such as UV radiation (sunlight), soil acidity and atmospheric conditions like temperature. Nature breaks down Biolefin the exact same way as nature would breakdown a leaf.

Nothing else needs to happen to Biolefin plastic if it gets thrown away carelessly, no treatments, no factories, no chemicals, nothing. Nature simply takes over and requires no more help from us, humans, to eat (biodegrade) this item should it be discarded incorrectly into the environment.

Cool right? Well, wait, it gets even better.

Biolefin TM – Is Photo-reactive

We mentioned above how the amazing biodegradability properties of Biolefin TM are due to the special additive Reverte TM. Reverte helps chop up the long-chain polymer strands of the plastic into much smaller strands so that bacteria, fungi, mold, and algae can eat it up and convert it to biomass.

But Biolefin wouldn’t be a very useful plastic if this process happened immediately, it wouldn’t even be remotely marketable either. So to ensure the product is fit for use in industry and retail, Biolefin only…

fragments and oxidizes … when exposed to sunlight … It then becomes edible by soil micro-organisms, and eventually disappears, leaving only water, carbon dioxide and biomass. What is Reverte [6]

Biolefin can actually persist on a shelf or factory floor for somewhere between 12 – 18 months safely without bio-degradation occurring. But put it outside in nature and the bio-degradation process is activated and it’s “Adiós Muchachos” for the plastic. Also, if the Biolefin is exposed to constant sunlight while discarded, say floating around on top of the ocean, it will break down even faster!

Awesome right? Well, wait, it gets even better.

Biolefin TM – Is Compostable

Are you into making soil and keeping your organic waste in buckets to prevent it from entering landfills? If not you should be, and if you are into composting, we have some good news about Biolefin.

Important:

Biolefin is 100% compostable!

If you compost regularly you’ll know that you can wreck a composting cycle by throwing in the wrong item by accident. You add something toxic to the micro-organisms in your compost and you have to throw it all away and start again.

Imagine composting your plastic waste in the same way you do organic waste? Well, with Biolefin you can literally throw the plastic shrink-wrap into an already churning compost heap and have it convert into food. The broken-down plastic fragments are highly susceptible to biodegradation by microorganisms.

Composting Biolefin also speeds up the biodegradability cycle of the plastic. Compost is, as we know, packed full of hungry microorganisms like mold, bacteria, and fungi ready to eat up the plastic, even in the absence of sunlight.

Cool right? Well, wait, there is even more.

Biolefin TM – Biodegradation Safety

As we mentioned earlier in the article, most common plastics as they slowly biodegrade, will actually just turn into smaller pieces of plastic over time. We call those pieces, microplastics, and they are seriously bad news [7].

Important:

Biolefin does not convert into microplastics!

Biolefin actually converts into many different things such as water, hydrogen, oxygen, and CO2 [6]. Ok so that last one isn’t great, but every dead leaf and twig on the ground is also converting into CO2 as well.

Nature has ways of dealing with biomass on the ground converting into CO2, but nature is very bad at dealing with us pumping thousands of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every couple of minutes.

So pick your battles wisely I guess.

Biolefin TM – Biodegradability Time Frames

Very few things on this earth are exact, and sadly the bio-degradation time frame of Biolefin is also non-exact. The process of bio-degradation will be dependant upon heat, sunlight, temperature, soil organisms, water and potentially hundreds of other factors that will play a part.

According to the specs sheet, biodegradation of Biolefin will occur and complete…

over a period of 1-3 years, comparable with most natural materials and completely satisfactory from an environmental viewpoint. What is Reverte [6]

Some references cite as long as five years for Biolefin to be completely degraded into biomass, but that is a heck of a lot better than 500 years when compared to normal plastic bags from the supermarket.

The biodegradability of Biolefin plastic
The biodegradability of Biolefin plastic

At the end of the day, the biodegradation rate is simply dependent on the environmental conditions in which the item is exposed. This is in fact true for all biodegradable materials whether it be grass cuttings, straw or oxo-biodegradable products such as Biolefin.

Why Use Biolefin TM At All Though?

Lets put it in the case of why, Reef Repair, needed to start using Biolefin shrink wrap and to explain why plastics like this are going to be around for a long time yet.

Every soap, shampoo bar or conditioner bar we manufacture must have a shelf life of around 24 months (2 years) for them to go to retail stores and sit on shelves. If we can’t meet that criteria, we can’t sell it via retail, stores don’t want products that go bad in 6 – 12 months.

Achieving a 24-month shelf life isn’t easy for 100% natural products. You will need robust packaging that will help protect a product from moisture, excessive heat, sunlight, oxidization and especially airborne bacteria and molds. Plastic shrink wrap helps you do that by giving the product an extra layer of protection.

Dilemna: How do you protect retail products, without using plastic, but maintain the necessary shelf life required for retail items?

Our shampoo, conditioners, and soaps use a combination of natural preservatives and oils. Because of this, we had issues in the past with the bars wilting from heat especially here in Thailand. The Plastic shrink wrap also prevents this “melting” of the bars and we achieved a 2-year shelf life, which is required for retail and distribution via Amazon and our other distributors.

Essentially we trialed several different approaches to answer the above problem like wrapping bars in thick wax paper and even aluminum zip-seal pockets, but nothing worked correctly. For instance, the Aluminum pockets actually trapped heat more, melting the bars quickly if not refrigerated. Eventually, a choice had to be made between using longer-lasting but harsher chemical preservatives in our products (nope), or use plastic shrink wrap to protect and secure them.

After many many months of research, we stumbled upon Biolefin TM and decided to give it a test run. As you can tell from this article we have been diligent in ascertaining just how environmentally friendly the plastic wrap is and probing the wrap for any biological weaknesses.

Biolefin TM Amazing Food Safe Shrink Wrap

Shelf life is also not the only concern that manufacturers and retailers have with cosmetic or food-based products. Let us list some other concerns that are extremely important for cosmetic packaging in regard to our own products.

  • Shrink wrap transparency (100%)
  • Can be heat shrunk around products
  • Permeability of product scents
  • Resistance & durability

It is a well-known fact in retail that customers like to visually inspect an item before they buy it. That means 100% clear transparent packaging so that they can see what they are purchasing. This holds true for our soaps, conditioner and shampoo bars. In many cases, pictures are not enough and customers enjoy picking up the item, opening the box and visually inspecting the product. After all, who wants an ugly bar of soap in their bathroom?

The next thing a customer will do is smell the product. If your packaging hides the smell and all they get is a whiff of their own hands, you might not make a sale. Visual and olfactory triggers are critical for retail purchasing decisions. Biolefin lets us maintain those benefits because it is permeable enough to allow the scent of products to waft through the packaging.

Biolefin wrapped Reef Repair ocean safe soap and shampoo bar
Biolefin wrapped Reef Repair ocean safe soaps and shampoo bar

Heat shrinking plastic wrap is also very important because it makes a product look more professional, pack easier and store for much longer. Biolefin is a shrink wrap designed to be heat shrunk around products. It works fantastically well for this application in our own experience.

Lastly, product scratch protection is important. You don’t want a shrink wrap that tears every time someone touches or handles it, that’s going to mean a lost sale due to a perceived damaged or pre-opened item. If you ever worked in retail you know exactly what we are talking about. Biolefin once heat-shrunk is very robust. It is easy to remove from a product when opening, but not easily damaged by curious customers, mishandling, incorrect storage or rough shipping procedures (USPS).

In summary, Biolefin helps Reef Repair keep our products safe from harm and available on shelves all-year-round, minus the guilt of contributing any long-lasting plastic wrappers to the environment with our sales.

Biolefin TM Drawbacks & Problems

As a company that produces environmentally friendly ocean and coral reef safe cosmetics, we truly don’t want to support the plastics industry at all, in any way.

So, the only real drawback for us is that the base polymers in Biolefin are petrochemicals (Polypropylene and Polyethylene). We hope one day to see bioplastics made from plant polymers like those that can be made from Hemp and Corn Starch, that maintain all the necessary retail properties that Biolefin has.

Sadly, as at the time of writing, there is no heat or shrinkwrap made from plant-based materials that will bio-degrade as effectively, safely or in the same time frames that Biolefin does. In fact, many plant-based plastics require costly recycling centers and additives to break them down correctly.

Biolefin TM seems to solve quite a few issues all at once, as long as you can justify keeping the petrochemical industry around a little while longer.

Summing It All Up

Plastics are not going anywhere anytime soon. Plastics are so deeply ingrained and so intrinsically important to our current way of life that they will be with us long into our future.

The best thing we can all do to promote a healthy environment and safety for marine life is to ensure that we start using plastics responsibly in our everyday lives. For Reef Repair that means responsible packaging and we do strive to use as little packaging as possible, we recycle everything and when we find need to use plastics, we do our research and you can too.

Coral Reef Safe Sun Cream & Sunscreen SPF 30+ Reef Repair 120ml
Coral Reef Safe Sun Cream & Sunscreen SPF 30+ Reef Repair 120ml

You can easily find products like Biolefin shrink wrap online, and the advantages to our environment are immense. Just imagine for a brief second if every piece of plastic in the ocean, landfill or river beds right now was going to simply disintegrate into nothingness in 1 – 3 years. We wouldn’t have to spend the next couple of decades cleaning it all up!

A plastic pollution-free future almost sounds to good to be true, but products like Biolefin biodegradable plastic can offer it to us. Especially if we continue to reduce, reuse and recycle a little better in our everyday consumer-driven lives.

Thanks for reading, happy diving, and please stay safe in the sun!

Reef Repair is not affiliated with, nor received any form of payment or incentives from the makers of Biolefin for this article. The opinions outlined in this article are those solely of reefrepair.org

Posted in Environment on .



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