Unmasking the ghostly presence of microplastics

Unmasking the ghostly presence of microplastics 2048 1152 Water Magazine

Embark on a chilling journey into the shadowy world of microplastics, 4.5 million tonnes of which silently infest our oceans, evading human sight yet leaving a haunting mark on our planet.

Dr. Ashlee Jahnke, head of research and development at biodegradable biopolymer developer Teysha Technologies

Here, Dr. Ashlee Jahnke, head of research and development at biodegradable biopolymer developer Teysha Technologies, unveils the reality of these unseen pollutants and introduces innovative biopolymer solutions that promise to exorcise the environmental spectre of microplastics.

A microplastic is any plastic with a diameter of less than 5 mm, or the equivalent of a sesame seed. They come from a variety of sources and are best known for their impact on the environment. In the ocean, for example, microplastics have become increasingly widespread, even being found hundreds of miles away from the closest human civilisation.

Microplastics can impact global wildlife in numerous ways, including changing animal behaviour. In a study by Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, it was found that Earthworms were changing their burrowing behaviour in the presence of microplastics, negatively affecting Earthworm fitness and soil condition. They can also impact abiotic elements of the environment, leaching heavy metals and other chemicals into the groundwater.

This is not to undermine the impact on human health. It is thought that microplastic ingestion can cause gastrointestinal distress, including irritation and abdominal pain. On top of this, microplastics can induce chemical toxicity, cause oxidative stress on airways and even damage mitochondria.

In a 2020 study, microplastics were even found in the placenta of four different women. Similarly, a 2022 study found that microplastic contamination was found in 11/13 tissue samples from surgery patients. The issue is becoming much more widespread, and cannot simply be brushed away, much like the microplastics that have caused this to begin with.

Infecting our environment

Microplastics can enter the environment from a variety of sources, none being natural. One of the biggest sources of microplastic contamination comes from plastic debris breakdown. Larger plastic items, including bottles, carrier bags and other single use plastics, break down over time due to exposure to sunlight and weathering processes. These fragmented pieces become microplastics in the environment.

Microplastics can also be introduced through personal care products. Prior to 2018, many hygiene products like exfoliating scrubs and toothpaste, contained tiny plastic particles known as microbeads. These microbeads were specifically manufactured and added to cosmetics to create a ball-bearing effect in creams and lotions. Unfortunately, these microbeads could not be completely filtered from the effluent, being deposited in the natural environment. Synthetic fibres also contribute to the problem. In fabrics like polyester and nylon, plastic microfibres are shed during washing, eventually making its way to rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Microplastics are even introduced from industrial processes and road runoff, where fragments produced during manufacture, processing or cleaning can be released. Similarly, vehicle tires and road paint can be washed into water bodies during rain, contributing to pollution.

Humans do not typically drink seawater, so it might seem strange to think that these microplastics could be ingested by us. One of the main ways that these microplastics enter our system is through the food chain, particularly through seafood.

Microplastics in the ocean are often mistaken for food by small marine organisms, thinking it small plankton or eggs. These smaller creatures can then be consumed by larger, moving up the food chain. This also leads to bioaccumulation of copious amounts of microplastics in the tissues of seafood, only to be ingested by humans further on. This also extends to filter feeders such as brachiopods and bivalves. By actively filtering microplastics along with plankton, accumulation of the particles occurs in the organism, making them a potential source of microplastic exposure for humans.

Unfortunately, this environmental contamination has even spread to controlled aquaculture environments. In fisheries globally, water which was previously free of contamination now introduces microplastics to farmed fish and seafood, which inevitably is ingested by humans upon consumption.

It might be wishful thinking to say that one could just avoid seafood, but the microplastic anathema has spread even further. Bottled beverages and plastic tea bags will continue to leach microplastics into the drinks. Processed foods have inexplicably been contaminated during processing or packaging. In fact, microplastics have even been detected in the air, especially in urban areas. People then ingest or inhale these particles, though the exposure is still being studied. It is even thought that humans may ingest anything from 0.1 to 5 g of microplastics weekly. That’s a grand total of 260 g annually, or just over 2.5 kg per decade.

Fighting back against microplastics

While the pervasive presence of microplastics in our environment presents a daunting reality, the urgency to combat this issue has never been clearer. With microplastics infiltrating our oceans, food, and even the air we breathe, finding sustainable alternatives becomes paramount. Biopolymers, derived from agricultural waste, are at the forefront of this eco-friendly revolution.

Biopolymers are eco-friendly materials made from natural, renewable sources, in this case agricultural waste and plant feedstock. In this way, monomers derived from the waste or feedstock, such as sugars, are reacted with renewable carbonylation agents from engineering materials, producing polycarbonates. By controlling the types of monomers used, ratios of different monomers and carbonylation agents, and modifying the molecule post polymerisation, the properties of the material can be tailored to a specific need. This biopolymer already finds usage in automotive manufacture and construction, but also as single-use packaging, medical devices and even as an additive to cosmetics. It is obvious to see that from a single technique, a potentially limitless variety of biodegradable plastics can be produced.

There are obvious environmental benefits to using this material. Of course, the overall waste from agriculture will be reduced dramatically, and the environmental burden of waste disposal will be heavily diminished. This also leads to economic advantages for any business adopting these materials. The first, for farmers, is the promotion of a circular economy, where even waste products can be potentially reworked into effective, high-quality products.

Further afield, it is thought that the reduction in waste disposal for businesses will produce cost savings, as well as meeting sustainability goals, promoting a positive brand image and appealing to environmentally conscious consumers.

Recognising the myriad benefits of biopolymers, it becomes clear that collaborative efforts and comprehensive support are essential to amplify their impact. Industries, policymakers and consumers are integral players in this transformative journey. Efforts have already been made to address the issue of plastic pollution, including the international Basel Convention treaty. The “Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal” is a treaty that regulates the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, including certain types of plastic waste. Originally devised to prevent the dumping of waste in developing countries, it has since developed into a collection of covenants regarding a variety of waste, including plastic.

By controlling the movement of this plastic waste, especially in the form of microplastics from industrial processes, the convention helps prevent their proliferation in oceans and other ecosystems. Moreover, the treaty encourages international cooperation, allowing countries to work together to find sustainable solutions for the plastic waste crisis.

A brighter future

In the future, environmental policies are expected to continue to undergo significant transformations, reflecting a global commitment to combat plastic pollution. Governments worldwide are likely to adopt more stringent regulations on plastic production, usage, and disposal, aiming to reduce plastic waste at its source. This is already being seen with the EU’s ban on plastic glitter on October 17, with expectations that the restrictions will continue to tighten. International agreements and conventions like the Basel Convention will play a pivotal role in strengthening these efforts on a global scale.

Anticipated developments include the widespread implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs, which will hold manufactures accountable for products throughout their lifecycle. EPR initiatives will incentivise eco-friendly designs, encourage the use of recyclable materials, and promote responsible waste management practices. These regulations will not only curb plastic pollution but also drive innovation, pushing industries towards more sustainable practices and fostering a cleaner, greener future for the planet.

In the hidden depths of our oceans, 4.5 million tonnes of microplastics silently weave their ghostly presence, haunting the very essence of our planet. As this spectral threat permeates our environment, a glimmer of light emerges in the form of biodegradable biopolymers.

The time has come to confront this unseen menace with action. Let us banish this environmental apparition by embracing the power of sustainable choices. Industries must innovate, policymakers must regulate, and consumers must demand eco-friendly alternatives. Together, we can dispel the ghost of microplastics from our oceans and usher in a future where the unseen no longer threatens our world. Join the movement, make the change, and create a future free from the haunting grip of microplastics.

To find out more about Tesha Technologies biopolymer technology and learn about some of its applications, visit the website.

Source: Water Magazine

Erasing gum litter – one chew at a time

Erasing gum litter – one chew at a time 1000 742 Green Business Journal

Chewing gum may be one of the world’s favourite habits, but it wreaks havoc on the environment. Dr Ashlee Jahnke, head of research and development at biodegradable biopolymer platform developer Teysha Technologies, is helping unwrap much greener solutions.

The history of chewing gum spans millennia.

More than 3000 years ago, ancient Greek philosophers mentioned chewing gum made from the natural resin of the Mastic Tree. Scandinavians munched on birch-bark tar, while Native Americans favoured resin from spruce trees.

Its popular origins, however, lie in South America where the Mayans and Aztecs harvested resin called chicle from the sapodilla tree. This practice eventually made its way to North America over a century ago.

Unfortunately, unsustainable harvesting practices led to the sapodilla’s decline, and synthetic gum bases took its place. One of the most common is polyvinyl acetate, also known as PVA. Beyond its use in gum, PVA is a key ingredient in glues, adhesives and stone consolidation. PVA is non-degradable, a petroleum derivative and makes up to 60 percent of the final gum formulation, contributing to the persistent effects of chewing gum litter.

Tackling the crisis

Chewing gum is a global environmental concern, contributing to approximately 105 tonnes of plastic rubbish annually due to its adhesive properties. According to DEFRA, the annual cleanup is estimated to cost the British taxpayer £7 million. Even worse, nearly 87 per cent of all streets in Britain bear unsightly gum stains.

Despite recent efforts, including a £10 million investment by gum manufacturers to ease the problem, the root cause remains unaddressed: Why aren’t gums designed to be biodegradable?

Our approach to tackling the problem revolves around harnessing natural monomers derived from plant feedstocks to create a diverse array of biopolymers. These monomers, including sugars and other natural products sourced from plants and agricultural waste products, are reacted with renewable carbonylation agents found in common engineering materials.

This combination creates polycarbonates, and through various modifications, the end products can be tailored to suit individual requirements.

The technology can be leveraged to produce robust, rigid materials suitable for construction applications, as well as flexible, pliable materials crafted for cutting-edge technologies. Furthermore, the principles can be applied to make the development of an engineered, biodegradable biopolymer – produced specifically to meet the needs of chewing gum fans – an attainable goal.

Like any potentially groundbreaking innovation, there are challenges. For example, the recipe for chewing gums is a closely held secret, complicating the development of new concepts. Regardless, our focus revolves around the modification of our biopolymer’s composition and manufacturing processes. Through these adjustments, we are dedicated to ensuring that our formulation remains not only safe for human consumption, but also retains the beloved elastic characteristics of popular chewing gum bases.

In addition to safety and elasticity, it must also match or improve the texture, consistency and mouth feel of existing gum products. Naturally, our polymer must also be degradable. It’s worth noting that this aspect plays to our advantage; modern gums are not renowned for their long-lasting flavour.

Despite the inevitable challenges and hurdles, the benefits of biodegradable gum are indisputable. Biodegradable gums offer a solution to the environmental problems caused by traditional synthetic gums. They will be naturally sourced from plants cultivated worldwide, significantly reducing waste accumulation, as well as erasing gum-based litter.

The resulting polymer would have a neutral taste, but the potential for long-lasting flavour. And through chemical modification of the polymer backbone, we can create chewing gum with an exceptionally enduring taste by releasing flavour gradually as the polymer begins to break down during chewing. Many biodegradable chewing gums exist, but Teysha’s differentiating factor lies in its adaptable biopolymer composition.

The flexibility of our patented technology means the gum is not limited to the properties of a natural polymer, but can be fine-tuned to meet the quality standards of premium chewing gum, including texture, longevity and elasticity.

This adaptability mirrors the diversity of non-biodegradable chewing gums. There are countless gum varieties tailored for specific purposes, from bubble blowing to extended flavour retention, and even medicinal delivery. Our technology can achieve all these variations while incorporating the crucial benefit of biodegradability.

It is time to demand biodegradable alternatives and champion innovations in gum chewing technology. Together we can make a meaningful impact, one chew at a time.

Source: Green Business Journal

Embracing green polymers: a call to eliminate petrochemical plastics in cosmetics

Embracing green polymers: a call to eliminate petrochemical plastics in cosmetics 800 531 Pollution Solutions Online

Renowned biopolymer specialist urges cosmetic companies to embrace sustainable alternatives.

Teysha Technologies, a leading company specialising in the production of biodegradable polymers derived from natural sources, has reiterated its plea to the cosmetics industry, urging them to abandon the use of traditional petroleum-based polymers in their products. This renewed call comes in the wake of an announcement that Teysha’s AggiePol polymer platform has received a Certificate of Biodegradability after successfully passing OECD 310 testing. This breakthrough signifies the availability of a genuinely sustainable plastic substitute for the cosmetics industry.

A report published by the Plastic Soup Foundation in 2022 revealed that 87 percent of products from the top ten cosmetics brands contain microplastics. The foundation also argues that the European Commission’s legislation introduced in 2022 to ban intentionally added microplastics is progressing too slowly and is inadequately comprehensive. The cosmetics industry cites the lack of viable alternatives to microplastics as a significant hurdle impeding the transition to sustainable additives.

In response to these concerns, Teysha Technologies asserts that cosmetic manufacturers must cease using environmentally detrimental plastic additives and microplastics that contribute to the pollution of water bodies and the food chain.

“Polymers play a crucial role in most cosmetic products, from stabilising formulations to prolonging product longevity on the skin,” explains Matthew Stone, the managing director of Teysha Technologies. “However, there is no inherent reason why many of these polymers cannot be sustainable and environmentally friendly. For instance, a single shower with a traditional shower gel containing microplastics can deposit up to 100,000 microbeads into the ocean.”

“These microplastic fragments persist in the environment for hundreds of years, infiltrate the food chain through consumption by animals, and have even been found in human blood samples.”

Teysha Technologies’ AggiePol platform represents a truly sustainable solution for the cosmetics industry. Unlike conventional bioplastics that rely partially on petroleum and do not easily biodegrade in natural conditions, AggiePol has been officially certified as a readily biodegradable material following OECD 310 testing.

“We are currently collaborating with a global cosmetic manufacturer that is exploring the use of our polymer platform to facilitate the transition away from environmentally harmful products,” Stone adds.

The cosmetics industry still heavily relies on conventional polymers as additives, such as those found in moisturising lotions. Although the use of plastic microbeads for exfoliation has been banned in cosmetic products in the UK, microplastics from other sources persist. Fortunately, Teysha is actively addressing the issue of microplastics.

Source: Pollution Solutions Online

Building a sustainable industry

Building a sustainable industry 840 560 BFM Magazine

Steve Taylor, technology development director at Teysha Technologies

Construction is the second largest contributor of single-use plastic waste in the UK. Figures from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) indicate that construction generates over 19 per cent of the UK’s five million tonnes of plastic waste per year. Recovery and recycling rates for waste materials across construction have been increasing, yet it’s still thought that up to 20,000 tonnes of construction plastic is sent to landfill. It’s time for construction companies to explore organic biopolymers, and how they can provide the building blocks for safer and more sustainable construction.

The construction sector is reliant on plastic for many applications including cladding panels, guttering, piping, electrical wiring, wall linings and insulation. It is chosen for its light weight, robustness and resistance to weather, corrosion and rot.

However, using plastics in construction often leads to more waste. Plastic waste is produced in a multitude of ways, from removing materials during renovations and discarding packaging to unused materials from off-cuts or over-ordering.

The industry already contributes 38 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions by burning fossil fuels to power machinery, so what can be done to reduce its environmental burden? To answer this, companies should explore the consequences of using construction plastics.

Using toxic building blocks

Plastic certainly has its advantages in construction. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyethylene (PE) are the most popular choices because they are versatile and combine good strength to weight ratios with durability and cost effectiveness. However, according to Greenpeace, PVC is the most environmentally damaging throughout its lifecycle.

PVC production is the largest use of chlorine and dioxin, two chemical building blocks responsible for a lot of toxic pollution. Chlorine is found in the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) destroying the Ozone layer, whereas dioxins pollute our waterways, poison our wildlife and contaminate our food chains. While there is little data on how much of the plastic in landfill is PVC, studies suggest that large amounts are incinerated in mixed waste facilities.

This has huge repercussions for human health. For example, Greenpeace reported that people living near illegal incineration sites in Malaysia had noticed an increase in respiratory issues and headaches. They are also concerned that toxic fumes could be causing menstruation issues or higher cancer rates.

If 40 per cent of plastics from construction is still sent to landfill or exported overseas, this is a significant contribution to pollution. This said, companies can rectify this and make construction more sustainable.

Exploring organic biopolymers

Organic biopolymers are showing promise as plastic alternatives across several industries including construction. This technology may eventually help steer the industry away from toxic PVC and PE.

A new composite material developed by Teysha Technologies has been made from natural derivations of starch and vegetable oils found in agricultural waste. This versatile polymer can be physically, mechanically and chemically tuned to meet the needs of the construction industry without using petrochemical monomers.

Organic biopolymers break down naturally to safe, non-toxic components in the environment. Furthermore, no toxic waste is generated in the production of organic biopolymers, unlike in the creation of PVC.

Plug-and-play systems, like the one developed by Teysha, are high-yielding and cost effective, meaning that large quantities can be produced at any one time. Because they can be manufacturing using waste sources, they support and promote a circular economy. Crucially, these biopolymers overcome many of the challenges of existing biopolymers. The fact that their hydrolytic breakdown can be tuned means they can be made to biodegrade in nature, and without the use of industrial catalysts.

The construction industry could make use of organic biopolymers, from insulation to window frames. If every construction material manufacturer were to make this transition, the toxic lifecycle of PVC and PE would soon become a thing of the past.

To find out more about Teysha Technologies, click here.

result of over a decade of research into natural polymer technology. Teysha’s natural product polycarbonate platform creates a wide range of polymers with tuneable properties and practical applications to meet the growing demand for sustainable plastics. The platform invention provides the design of synthetic strategies for the development of polymer materials that originate from renewable resources, exhibit novel combinations of strength and toughness, as well as undergo hydrolytic breakdown to biologically beneficial by-products.

Source: BFM Magazine

Reuse, Recycling, and Sustainable Polymer Production

Reuse, Recycling, and Sustainable Polymer Production 1280 960 Admin

When it comes to waste management and lessening our impact on the environment, the world is facing a significant challenge. The manufacture and disposal of plastic products is one significant area of concern. As a result, the polymer industry has begun to place a greater emphasis on sustainability, with a focus on the three Rs: reuse, recycling, and sustainable polymer production.


Minimizing the use of plastic products in the first place is the first step in reducing their negative effects on the environment. Promoting the reuse of plastic products is one way to achieve this. There is less need for single-use plastic items when products like reusable bags, water bottles, and food containers are used repeatedly.

Reusable packaging has become increasingly popular in the food industry in recent years. In order to cut down on the amount of plastic packaging that ends up in landfills, many grocery stores now give customers the option to bring their own containers for bulk food items. Similar to this, some cafes and restaurants give patrons who bring their own reusable cups discounts.

Encouragement of plastic product repair and refurbishment is another strategy for promoting reuse. This is especially useful for items like electronics, which are frequently thrown away when they could be fixed and used again. We can lessen waste and the need for new plastic items by extending the life of these products.


Recycling is the next-best choice when plastic products do reach the end of their useful lives. Recycling entails repurposing old plastic waste into fresh goods, lessening the demand for virgin plastic production, and reducing the amount of plastic waste that pollutes the environment or ends up in landfills.

There are a number of difficulties with recycling plastic. The variety of plastic types is one significant issue, which can make it challenging to efficiently sort and process waste plastic. Some towns have single-stream recycling programs that enable citizens to combine all types of recyclable materials to address this problem. This strategy, though, has the potential to contaminate recycled plastic and degrade its general quality.

The low demand for recycled plastic is another issue. Recycled plastic finds it challenging to compete in the market because virgin plastic is frequently more affordable and accessible. Some businesses are working to increase the demand for recycled plastic in order to solve this problem by incorporating it into their goods or packaging. For instance, some businesses are currently using recycled plastic in their water bottles, which decreases the demand for the production of virgin plastic.

Production of Sustainable Polymers

Reusing and recycling plastic products are crucial steps toward reducing their negative effects on the environment, but they are insufficient on their own. We must create more environmentally friendly processes for making plastic if we are to effectively address the crisis of plastic waste.

Using bioplastics is one system for producing polymers sustainably. Bioplastics are plastics produced using renewable coffers like sugarcane or sludge bounce. These coffers are more sustainable than conventional petroleum- grounded plastics because they can be continuously grown and gathered.

The creation of novel, more environmentally friendly polymer product ways is another strategy. For case, some scientists are probing the use of enzymes to degrade waste plastic and produce fresh polymer accoutrements . Other people are working on perfecting the processes used to transfigure biomass into polymer feedstocks.


Reuse, recycling, and sustainable polymer product are essential for minimizing the negative environmental goods of plastic products. We can lessen the volume of plastic waste that pollutes the terrain or ends up in tips by encouraging the exercise of plastic goods, raising the demand for recycled plastic, and creating further environmentally friendly processes for making plastic. To make this vision a reality, however, governments, pots, and people all need to work together. We can make a further sustainable future for ourselves and unborn generations if we work together.


Recycling and the future of the plastics industry

Recycling and the future of the plastics industry 2560 1703 Admin

For a future that’s sustainable, recycling is a pivotal practice. Recycling allows accoutrements to be reused and keeps them out of tips
and the ocean, which reduces waste and conserves coffers. When it comes to recycling, plastic is one of the accoutrements that needs further consideration.

The plastics assiduity has made a sizable profitable donation to the world, but it has also seriously harmed the terrain. Growing environmental concern over the goods of plastic waste in recent times has directed attention on recycling and the direction of the plastics assiduity.

The Waste Problem with Plastic

Plastic has been used for numerous times for a variety of uses because it’s strong, featherlight, and protean. It’s now a commonplace material used in construction, electronics, apparel, and packaging in our diurnal lives.

Its adaptability, still, is also a weakness. The maturity of plastic ever produced is still in use moment because it takes hundreds of times for plastic to degrade. This plastic waste is ditched in tips, abysses, and other natural areas, where it seriously harms ecosystems and wildlife.

According to estimates, there are presently over 8 million tons of plastic in the ocean alone, making plastic pollution a major global issue. Due to studies indicating that microplastics have been discovered in seafood and valve water, this plastic waste not only poses a trouble to marine life but also has the implicit to enter our food chain. also, the product of plastic uses a lot of fossil energies, which makes it a major source of hothouse gas emigrations and climate change.

The Importance of Recycling

One of the stylish ways to lessen plastic waste’s impact on the terrain is through recycling. Recycling plastic can help with resource conservation, energy effectiveness, and the reduction of hothouse gas emigrations. By converting waste into a useful resource, it can also contribute to profitable value creation and job creation.

Plastic waste must be gathered, sorted, gutted, and reused into new products as part of the recycling process. Plastic recycling does present some difficulties, however. The fact that not all plastic can be reclaimed and that some recycling installations may not indeed accept recyclable plastics is one of the major problems.

High- viscosity polyethylene( HDPE), polypropylene( PP), and polyethylene terephthalate( PET) are the plastics that are reclaimed most constantly. These are the plastics set up in products like food holders, milk ewers, and water bottles.

Another issue is the impurity of plastic waste, which can be when recyclable and non-recyclable materials are combined. Food stains, canvases , or other substances left on the plastic can also pollute it, making recovering further grueling . juggernauts for proper education and mindfulness can discourage impurity and motivate people and businesses to reclaim duly.

The Plastics Industry’s Future

With a growing emphasis on sustainability and minimizing the environmental impact of plastic product, the plastics assiduity has experienced significant changes lately. The move towards circularity is one of the plastics assiduity’s most promising developments. In order to reduce waste and conserve coffers, circularity aims to establish a unrestricted- circle system in which materials are reclaimed and reused.

To increase the capability of plastics to be reclaimed, numerous businesses are presently making investments in new technologies and inventions. For case, some businesses are creating brand-new plastics that are simpler to reclaim and degrade more snappily. Others are making investments in recycling technologies that can handle a wider variety of plastic waste, indeed materials that aren’t presently recyclable.

also, some businesses are looking into cover materials for conventional plastics. Among them are bioplastics, which are produced using sustainable materials like cornstarch, sugarcane, and potato bounce.

Although there are obstacles, bioplastics have the eventuality to lessen the negative goods of plastic product on the terrain. For case, some bioplastics aren’t biodegradable and need particular circumstances to break down.


Recycling is crucial to lowering the environmental impact of plastic waste and is necessary for a sustainable future. The plastics industry has made a significant economic contribution to the world, but it has also seriously harmed the environment. However, there is hope for a better future for the plastics industry thanks to the growing emphasis on sustainability, circularity, and technological advancements.

Companies are spending money on innovative materials and technologies that can make plastics more recyclable and have a smaller negative impact on the environment. It is critical that everyone maintain recycling as a top priority and cooperate to build a more sustainable future.


Breaking down the truth behind biodegradability

Breaking down the truth behind biodegradability 792 529 Sustainable Plastics

Exploring bioplastic biodegradability and how it will impact our future

According to Report Insights, the biodegradable plastics market was worth 7.65 billion USD in 2022 and is projected to exceed 22.12 billion USD by 2030. While the appetite for plastics made from natural feedstocks is increasing, what can we expect for the future of bioplastic research?
Dr Ashlee Jahnke, head of research and development  at plastic substitute specialist Teysha Technologies, discusses common problems with bioplastics and how recent innovations in biodegradability will shape our future.

Many commercial developments show promising results and improvements in the technologies used to produce bio-based materials. For example, ABB has set out to automate NatureWorks’ bioplastics plant in Thailand, which could improve production throughput and help accelerate consumer uptake in bioplastics. What’s more, continued research has led to new and innovative products, such as the Röchling Group’s latest sustainable bioplastics, Röchling-BioBoom and Röchling-ReLoop, which are manufactured using renewable raw materials like cellulose.
While this is certainly commendable progress expected to strengthen the sustainability of recycled materials and bioplastics, questions remain over just how sustainable some bioplastics truly are. For example, many bio-based plastics still use petroleum-derived plasticiser additives to give them mechanical properties akin to traditional plastics.
Not only does this continue to rely on the availability of fossil fuels, it also greatly affects the material’s biodegradability and environmental impacts. These materials will still require industrial processing to be recycled or broken down, potentially involving energy-intensive processes like catalytic pyrolysis. It’s important that future innovations tackle these issues so that the entire lifecycle of a bio-material can be considered truly sustainable. With this in mind, what can we expect from future bioplastic research?


Great expectations
One expected development is more companies working to make improvements in the large-scale processes required to source and produce bio-based materials, increasing opportunities for further testing and certifications through collaborations with strategic partners. Additionally, continued research will build upon 2022’s successes, where access to new polymer compositions greatly increased. The current library includes polymers containing a single carbohydrate-based monomer unit, multiple carbohydrate-based monomers, and other comonomers derived from natural sources such as agricultural waste.

Perhaps the biggest recent advancement has been in the development of natural polymer materials with tuneable thermal, mechanical, and degradation properties. For example, polymers containing varying percentages of the same two comonomers have demonstrated a range of glass transition temperatures from -40 to 60 degrees Celsius. These thermal transition properties are indicative of mechanical properties, like stiffness, elasticity and brittleness. By demonstrating varying transition temperatures, while maintaining molar mass, dispersity and thermal stability, certain characteristics of the resulting materials can be chemically designed and tuned to suit the needs of a given application.
Importantly, the advantages of more specialised, higher-cost monomers can be obtained by incorporating only partial percentages of the monomer into the final polymer structure. The enhanced tunability that this strategy allows will have a significant impact on the ultimate breadth of applications that these materials can be used in.

These important steps in the search for a truly sustainable bioplastic have been conducted by biodegradable biopolymer specialist, Teysha Technologies. The company’s material family, AggiePol, has a wide range of properties, and some have been designed with the target of achieving biodegradation on the timeline required for OECD 310 Ready Biodegradability Certification. This assessed organic substances’ aerobic biodegradability in freshwater environments and was achieved by an AggiePol material in June 2022.
As the appetite for biodegradable bioplastics continues to grow, this research indicates that the future of bioplastics need not rely on harmful, finite fossil fuels or energy-intensive degradation processes.

Source: Sustainable Plastics

Surfing through plastic pollution

Surfing through plastic pollution 1000 640 Design Products & Applications

79 percent of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic created since the 1950s still accumulates in our environment. Plastic pollution frequently litters the UK’s coast, endangering wildlife and generating microplastics, which can enter the food chain. Here, Matthew Stone, Managing Director at Teysha Technologies, discusses the varied measures groups like Surfers Against Sewage and the UK Government have taken to reduce pollution on our beaches.

A welcomed break from the bustle of city life, we often associate a trip to the coast with fresh air and scenic landscapes. It is no surprise, therefore, that over 55 percent of people in Britain want to buy a seaside home. Sadly, the idyllic view of our beaches is being spoiled by pollution.

Beach pollution counts as any material that harms our coasts. It could come from plastic waste, litter, sewage or oil. Not only is it a public health risk but it also harms wildlife and its habitats, reduces property value and can limit economic growth in a community.

Plastic production is expected to double from 400 million tonnes to 800 million tonnes by 2040, so we must work together with the government, public, charities and businesses to tackle beach pollution. After all, what we see on the beaches is miniscule compared to what is floating around the rest of the ocean.

Sewage pollution

In the summer of 2022, water companies were criticised by the public for dumping untreated sewage into the sea which led to pollution warnings for more than 100 British beaches.

In the UK, water companies can use combined sewer overflows to release sewage and rainwater in times of extreme rain to prevent flooding. However, many have called into question whether the discharge of sewage was necessary because of the length and frequency recorded.

Despite an excellent rating in water quality, Ryde beach on the Isle of Wight experienced a spike in faecal pollution 40 times higher than normal after a local water company released untreated sewage for more than two-and-a-half hours. Beach-goers were warned to keep away from the area because of an increased risk of exposure to pathogenic bacteria that can cause gastroenteritis and other infections.

In August 2022, the then environment secretary, George Eustice announced that water companies must invest £56 billion over 25 years into a long-term programme. The investment’s purpose is to increase the capacity of a company’s networks and treat sewage before it’s discharged. If water companies do not meet these targets, they could face substantial fines or be made to return money to customers.

Since this plan was announced, the UK Government has changed significantly, with Rishi Sunak now the Prime Minister and a new cabinet announced. It is vital that the new government prioritises tackling sewage pollution by keeping this plan on the government business moving forwards, ensuring water companies can no longer discharge sewage into our waterways, except under exceptional circumstances.

Plastic pollution

One way that the British public have tried to combat plastic pollution on beaches is to volunteer for clean-up sessions. During the 2021 Great British Beach Clean, 6,176 volunteers found an average of 112 plastic or polystyrene pieces per 100m of beach. In fact, 75 percent of all litter collected on the beach clean was plastic or polystyrene.

It is clear, therefore, that we need to continue focusing our attention on single-use plastic. This was shown by the decreasing number of single-use plastic bags found per 100m of beach, which dropped from 13 to 3.

We also need to focus on targeting the companies that are continuing to use unsustainable materials. Surfers against Sewage, an environmental charity, recently projected on the White Cliffs of Dover the 12 companies producing 70 percent of branded packaging found during its Million Mile Clean. These included big household names like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nestlé and Carlsberg Group. The charity has labelled this group the Dirty Dozen and argued that they are not living up to their sustainability pledges.

Much emphasis has been placed on reformer groups like the Marine Conservation Society, who are constantly recruiting volunteers to help clean our beaches. However, the corporate start-up approach is equally important.

Businesses that influence pollution need to be held accountable and prove that they are actively pursuing new, sustainable solutions. For example, corporate financiers can use their background to help deploy early-stage funding for developing truly biodegradable biopolymers. This is exactly how Teysha Technologies found its feet.

Plastic alternatives

One way people are reducing plastic pollution is by looking to the past. Recently, surfers have been trying to bring back traditional wooden boards. These surfboards are more sustainable than their foam or epoxy alternatives. They are also known to carry more momentum and deal with surface chop better, improving user experience, as well as being sustainable.

As some look to the past, others look to the future with innovative plastic alternatives. One of these alternatives is AggiePol, a novel bioplastic developed by Teysha Technologies. Since AggiePol doesn’t contain petrochemicals, it doesn’t rely on finite fossil fuels. Instead, it’s made from natural feedstocks like agricultural waste that are high in supply.

In July 2022, AggiePol was issued a certificate of biodegradability following successful OECD310 testing, making it a sustainable alternative to traditional petrochemical plastics.

AggiePol’s tunability options mean that it can be tailored to undergo slow or rapid biodegradation in a natural environment, depending on its intended application. Unlike other bioplastics, it does not require resource-intensive catalysts to degrade. This makes it suitable for industries that rely on single-use plastics like food and beverage or packaging.

Reducing beach pollution is a momentous task that requires effort from the public, businesses and government. As an island nation, we have a duty to look after the ocean if we hope to look after our own health and well-being. One of the ways that we have done this is by developing innovative materials to replace single-use plastic.

To find out more about the newly certified biodegradable AggiePol, head to the Teysha Technologies website here.

Source: Design Products & Applications

Truly sustainable alternative to bioplastic achieves certification

Truly sustainable alternative to bioplastic achieves certification 2560 1440 London Daily News

Biopolymer specialist Teysha Technologies has been issued a Certificate of Biodegradability for its polymer platform, AggiePol, following successful OECD 310 testing. Now AggiePol, a novel bioplastic derived entirely from natural feedstocks, has been confirmed to be readily biodegradable — meaning that it biodegrades to natural, non-harmful sugars. The material represents a genuinely sustainable plastic replacement, unlike conventional bioplastics that are partially petroleum-based and not readily biodegradable.

The global plastic additives market is worth approximately $50bn and is expected to reach roughly $75bn in five years’ time. Many additives are microplastics used in commercial products, like cosmetics, and contribute to the ongoing pollution of waterways and the food chain. For example, a shower using a traditional shower gel containing microplastics deposits up to 100,000 microbeads in the ocean. Globally, governments are implementing legislation, such as banning exfoliating plastic microbeads, and businesses are seeking sustainable alternative materials to combat the problem.

Teysha Technologies’ AggiePol platform represents a solution to the plastics pollution problem. Unlike conventional bioplastics that are partially petroleum-based and do not readily biodegrade in natural conditions, AggiePol contains no petroleum and is officially a readily biodegradable material after OECD 310 testing.

Matthew Stone, chairman of Teysha Technologies, said: “The limitations of conventional bioplastics, in terms of biodegradation, are well known, but the argument in their favour was that, while they were not perfect, they were the best available alternative to traditional plastics. Now AggiePol has been officially certified as being biodegradable, we can provide a truly sustainable material solution to additives in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals that provides harmony with our waterways, ecology and food chain.

“In many ways, this can be seen as the holy grail in the search for plastic replacements and represents an opportunity for industries to switch to a truly sustainable alternative and drive policy change when it comes to industrial plastics. We will commence product testing and manufacturing and scale up immediately.”

Karen Wooley, chief technology officer at Teysha Technologies, said: “AggiePol’s tunability options mean it can be tailored to undergo slow or rapid biodegradation depending on the application. This makes it suitable for use in markets like packaging, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, where businesses still rely on either traditional plastics or partially petroleum-based bioplastics that contribute significantly to ongoing pollution.”

To discover more about AggiePol and learn how it can be used as a truly biodegradable alternative to conventional bioplastics, contact Teysha Technologies through its website.

Source: London Daily News

The invasion of microplastics into the human body

The invasion of microplastics into the human body 792 528 Sustainable Plastics

In 2019, a study by the World Health Organisation estimated that the average adult would consume between 300 and 600 microplastics a day. Three years later, a recent study by the Medical University of Vienna has suggested that on average, people eat five grams of micro and nanoplastics every week. There is growing concern around the levels of harm microplastics can cause as they’ve been found in human blood, lungs and faeces. Here Dr Ashlee Jahnke, Head of Research at biodegradable biopolymer research platform Teysha Technologies, explains how microplastics have impacted human bodies and what steps can be taken to reduce microplastic pollution for the future.

In March 2022, scientists from the Netherlands and the UK analysed blood samples from 22 anonymous donors and found plastic particles in 17 of them. Half of the samples in the study contained PET plastic and a third contained polystyrene. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a clear and lightweight plastic that is widely used for food and beverage packaging. Despite being 100 per cent recyclable and approved as safe for food and beverage contact by organisations like the FDA, it is still prone to fragmenting into microplastics.

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles, that measure less than five millimetres, that can enter the body through food, water and breathing. Primary microplastics, typically known as microbeads, are designed for commercial use and can be found in cosmetics or synthetic textiles. Secondary microplastics are formed unintentionally as a result of the breakdown of larger plastics through exposure to environmental factors like water erosion and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. These microplastics can be transported to remote areas of the world by wind and water.

The impact of microplastics on the human body

Currently, there isn’t sufficient evidence to uncover how plastic particles are retained in the body or the damage they can cause. One study has found that microplastics can latch onto the outer membranes of red blood cells and limit their ability to transport oxygen. In 2022, scientists also discovered that microplastics could breach the blood-brain barrier in mice and negatively impact the microglial cells in the brain. The desire to discover more about the effect of microplastics on the human body has led to charities like Common Seas imploring the UK Government to allocate £15 million of Whitehall R&D funding towards research into human health impacts of plastics.

One previous study found that the number of microplastics found in the faeces of bottle-fed babies was ten times higher compared to adults. This is because the recommended high-temperature process for sterilising baby bottles, which involves sterilising the bottle in 95 degree Celsius water and then shaking the formula powder with 70 degree Celsius water in the bottle, caused them to shed millions of microplastics and nanoplastics.

Most experiments that aim to answer whether microplastics cause harm use animals like mice and rats. In one experiment, mice that were exposed to microplastics saw tissue damage, a decrease in body weight and changes in lymphocyte composition. There was also evidence of intergenerational problems as the offspring of mice exposed to microplastics suffered liver damage and metabolic disorders. However, despite these studies, many argue there is still not enough sufficient evidence to answer whether microplastics cause harm in the human body.

How microplastics show the flaws in solutions to plastic pollution

Despite the strong narrative that plastics and microplastics are dangerous for the environment and for human bodies, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that plastic production will double by 2040 at the current trajectory.

Plastics, like PET, that are used in 70 per cent of soft drink bottles are praised for being 100 per cent recyclable. Two life-cycle studies found that plastic bottles made using PET created fewer greenhouse gas emissions and generated less solid waste than drinks in glass bottles or aluminium cans. These factors make PET a desirable, sustainable choice for food and drink packaging manufacturers.

However, a 2022 study found that the faeces of people with more severe IBD symptoms had 1.5 times more microplastic particles per gram than those from healthy subjects. PET plastic was one of the most common types of plastics found in the faeces, which is similar to the study of microplastics in the bloodstream.

How can the microplastic problem be solved?

Action has been taken to limit the production of some microplastics. In 2018, the UK Government banned the sale of products containing microbeads, small pieces of plastic that are added to products like face scrubs and shower gels. Businesses are also getting involved. In 2021, Teysha Technologies partnered with a major North American multinational additives manufacturer to begin developing alternatives to petroleum-based microplastics. These alternatives, once developed, have the potential to be used in a variety of applications like dyes, paints, exfoliants, emulsions and lubricants.

According to market data collected by European Bioplastics and nova-Institute, global bioplastic production is set to increase from 2.42 million tonnes in 2021 to approximately 7.59 million tonnes in 2026. Bioplastics are seen as a popular alternative to traditional petrochemical plastics as they use less fossil fuel resources and have a smaller carbon footprint. However, for many bioplastics to degrade quickly and less harmfully, they must go through industrial composting.

As interest grows in biopolymers, so does innovation. Teysha Technologies is researching and testing the next generation of environmentally friendly biopolymers, like AggiePol, that offers variable solubilities, thermal transition temperatures and mechanical behaviours. The biopolymer can be tuned to each application requirement to operate and break down in specific environmental conditions. The result is an environmentally-friendly, biodegradable plastic.

Though more research is needed to understand the prevalence of microplastics in the human body and the harm that they can cause, businesses must consider environmentally-friendly alternatives for their products.

Dr Ashlee Jahnke is Head of Research at biodegradable biopolymer research platform Teysha Technologies,