Eliminating plastic waste for good by developing biodegradable single-use plastic alternative

What is the Challenge?

Located halfway between Hawaii and California, about three times the size of France, is an island made of accumulated plastic. It is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and is the largest accumulation of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world’s oceans. About 2 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. More than half of this plastic is less dense than the water, meaning that it will not sink once it encounters the sea.The plastic that reaches the sea comes back to us in food and water, causing major health problems. In financial terms, USD 3.7 trillion globally is being spent on the overall social and environmental costs of plastic pollution every year. How do we change this development and stop the world’s enormous plastic pollution? Eliminate plastic waste for good? Find alternatives that can replace single-use plastics?

What is the Solution?

Cleantech start-up Solutum has developed a technology to produce a unique compound with the potential to replace single-use plastic in for example carry bags and packaging applications. The product feels and looks like plastic but is made of a 100% environmentally friendly materials that requires only water to biodegrade. The product is so safe that it is even possible to drink its water solution! The “plastic” easily dissolves in water and become part of nature, going through the normal drainage systems to wastewater treatment plants, where it fully biodegrades into CO2, H2O, and biomass. Solutum has developed a mechanism that controls how sensitive the material is to water, making it possible to control the time from when the material comes in contact with water, until the dissolving process starts. The warmer the water, the quicker the material will dissolve. This mechanism allows the adaptation to fit various plastic substitutes. As Solutum’s manufacturing process uses existing plant and equipment, the possibility to scale up is promising.