Are TOTO-TOA® polymers sustainable? How does it help the environment?

Every product at the end of its life is either recycled or disposed as waste. When a product cannot be recycled or recycling is not available it ends up as waste in the environment or in a landfill where around 79% of plastic ends up. This has a detrimental impact on our environment. Products that cannot biodegrade can last for an extremely long time and breakdown in to smaller fragments that cannot be used by nature. On the other hand products with enhanced biodegradability can have a limited impact on the environment. Because when disposed of responsibly it will be turned into biomass (organic matter) and biogas once the biodegradation* process is complete, which can become new resources for us and the environment. It makes environmental sense to produce products with plastic resins that will biodegrade much faster which will not impact the physical properties of that plastic, if recycled will have no negative impact on the recycling stream, and if landfilled will naturally biodegrade.

What happens if a consumer disposes of the product incorrectly or left as litter?

Biodegradation of products made with TOTO-TOA® polymers will occur anywhere there is an active microbial environment. Sitting on the dirt on in stream will subject the product to an active microbial environment, however the entire product will not be subjected to the microbial environment simultaneously and will result in a much longer biodegradation period. Plastic litter also has an unfortunate habit of blowing in the wind and floating on water, which may disrupt some microbe colonies during the biodegradation process, which might then slow the process down. It is advisable to collect waste products and send it to recycling or disposed of responsibly.

Are the by-products of biodegradation harmful to our environment?

Biodegradation is a natural process that is essential in maintaining our planet’s ecosystem and nutrient cycles. The waste gasses produced through the process of plastic biodegradation are manageable and even economically useful.

Do polymers still remain in the soil after biodegradation? And what is left?

No, the microbes utilise the carbon backbone of the polymer chain. Microbes use the carbon for energy and leave nothing of the polymer behind once the process of digestion is complete. once the enhanced plastics are digested by microbes, the by-products are biogas (Methane & CO2) and biomass. The bio gases can be collected for clean energy such as methane while CO2 is stored in the landfill ground and the biomass is natural soil organic matter.

Since it is biodegradable* do products made with TOTO-TOA® polymers have a limited shelf-life?

No, TOTO-TOA® polymers do not have a limited shelf life. Biodegradation is only activated in a landfill environment, enabling customers to enjoy full use of their plastic products before disposal.

Can products made with TOTO-TOA® polymers be recycled?

Yes, however this will only apply to products made with a single material component. Products with TOTO-TOA® polymers that can be recycled will display a recycling symbol with recycling number for easy reference. Check your local recycling authority for details.

TOTO-TOA® Oxo-Biodegradable?

Oxo-degradable plastics require oxygen and UV light to biodegrade. These are two things not commonly found in landfills. TOTO-TOA® is different because it enables the material to quickly decompose when properly disposed of and left in landfills where oxygen and UV light is lacking. TOTO-TOA® polymers are biodegradable* in both aerobic and anaerobic environments, making them ideal for landfills, where most plastics are discarded. Oxo-degradable plastics can leave behind harmful byproducts, TOTO-TOA® polymers break down completely, forming inert biomass and biogas that can he harvested to generate clean energy.

What is biodegradation?

Biodegradation is a process by which complex molecules are changed into simple molecules through the actions of microorganisms.

What is a Microbe?

Microbes, or microorganisms, are the smallest organisms on the planet and require the use of a microscope to see them. There are a huge variety of organisms that can be classified as “microbes.” They can live alone or in colonies. They can help you or they can hurt you. These creatures make up the largest number of living organisms on the planet. There are trillions and trillions of microbes on the Earth. Microbes include bacteria, fungi, some algae, and protozoa. A microorganism can be heterotrophic or autotrophic. These two terms mean they either eat other things (hetero) or make food for themselves (auto). Think about it this way: plants are autotrophic and animals are heterotrophic. A protozoan like an amoeba might spend its whole life alone, cruising through the water. Others, like fungi, work together in colonies to survive.

What are the differences between biodegradation and degradation?

Biodegradation: The process by which an organic material degrades through the action of microorganisms over a period of time. Biodegradation can occur in either aerobic (with oxygen) or anaerobic (without oxygen) environments. Degradation: The process by which a material is broken down into smaller pieces but never completely disappears. Plastic degradation can be initiated by the presence of oxygen, UV light, and heat. In many cases these products begin to degrade the moment they are manufactured, resulting in an abbreviated shelf-life.

What is compostable?

With compostable products, decomposition happens when micro-organisms break down organic matter into compost through a process called composting. Composting requires human management. The micro-organisms involved in decomposition are: bacteria, actinobacteria, fungi, protozoa and rotifers. These organisms require 4 ingredients: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water.

What are the differences between biodegradation and composting?

Bio-degradation is a naturally-occurring process while composting is human-driven. Composting is an accelerated method of the biodegradation process due to optimised circumstances which require the use of energy.

What is is the difference between home and commercial composting?

Home composting breaks down of organic waste such as food scraps, grass clippings, leaves, etc. This occurs over a period of months normally in a backyard compost barrel, or a home compost bins. The conditions and temperatures for home composting unfortunately will not break down PLA bioplastic products and isn’t suitable for meat, fish or dairy as the smell can attract vermin. Commercial (Industrial) composting is a closely monitored and controlled composting process. Monitoring inputs of water, air, and gasses. An industrial composting facility optimises the process to ensure rapid biodegradation of organic material by controlling conditions like shredding material to the same size or controlling the temperature and oxygen levels.

What is the ASTM standardised testing methods for biodegradation?

  • D6400 Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics – Defines the testing parameters for performing the D5338 Test Method
  • D5338 Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under Controlled Composting Conditions – Standard test method for aerobic biodegradation for industrial compost environments.
  • D5511 Standard Test Method for Determining Anaerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under High-Solids Anaerobic Digestion Conditions – Standard test method for anaerobic biodegradation for landfill environments.

What’s the difference between the ASTM D6400 standard and the ASTM D5511 test?

The ASTM D6400 is a standard specification that is used to evaluate the results obtained from ASTM D5338 composability testing. The ASTM D5511 is a test method that evaluates the biodegradability of plastic in anaerobic, or oxygen-less, conditions. The ASTM D6400 standard is not used to evaluate data obtained from D5511 testing.

Which ASTM biodegradable testing standards have TOTO-TOA® polymers been tested to?

TOTO-TOA® polymers utilise ingredients that are biodegradable in both aerobic and anaerobic environments. The customary disposal method of most plastics being either recycled or landfill we feel the most applicable test methods would be for anaerobic (landfill) environments. We therefore test products under the scrutiny of the ASTM D 5511 which is a standard test method for determining anaerobic biodegradation of plastic materials under high-solids anaerobic digestion conditions.

Do TOTO-TOA® polymers meet ASTM 6400 standards?

TOTO-TOA® polymers are biodegradable in both aerobic and anaerobic environments. The customary disposal method for plastic is landfilling, not composting. Ingredients in TOTO-TOA® are not designed to biodegrade plastics in the timeframe required for professional composting facilities, and so probably does not meet the D6400 standard. Methods are being conducted now with to meet this standard.

Will plastic made with TOTO-TOA® polymers biodegrade in the marine environments and have you tested this?

TOTO-TOA® polymers should biodegrade in any active microbial environment, this include lakes, oceans and streams. We have ongoing testing to validate this.

What is the difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic Biodegradation?

Aerobic biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganism in the presence of oxygen. Anaerobic biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganism when oxygen is not present.

Are TOTO-TOA® polymers biodegradation process strictly anaerobic/aerobic or a combination of both?

It is a combination of both aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen). Microbes found in both environments will be attracted to the products made with TOTO-TOA® polymers and will colonise on the plastic which will result in complete biodegradation.

*Testing done under ASTM D5511 & ISO15985-14 shows that some biologically active landfills without oxygen could biodegrade TOA-TPU by 25.68% and TOA-PC by 29.58% after 6 months under ideal conditions. Actual biodegradation rates will vary in biologically-active landfills according to the type of plastic used, the product configuration, and the solid content, temperature and moisture levels of the landfill. Please ask your local waste or recycling authority if this type of collection or waste disposal facilities exist for the product. This product is not considered biodegradable in some States including California, Maryland, or Washington.