BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC

AFTER the much ballyhooed government ban on the use of plastic bags and styropore packaging, it now appears that authorities are not fully aware of a new technological breakthrough in the manufacture of true biodegradable plastics.

It must be the reason the administration issued the blanket prohibition on the use of any kind of plastic wrapping and styropore products given to customers of retail and wholesale establishments.

Obviously, government regulatory agencies are unknowing of the latest product - an additive - that makes plastic eco-friendly and safe to human life.

Because of that absence of information in this advanced technological product, the public is made to believe that all plastic products are hazardous to the environment and to the health of everyone.

The usual jazz: Plastics do not degrade or decompose, and worse, when burned, the smoke destroys the ozone layers. Their residue on the ground renders agriculture lifeless.

So what the government does not tell us is the information that is devoid of the knowledge on a plastic additive being used by American and European plastic manufacturers to the satisfaction of millions of end-users.

This revolutionary product is called ECM Masterbatch pellets biodegradable additive. ECM Biofilms USA in Ohio developed the technology in 1998. It goes into the manufacture of any kind of plastic with only 1% loading and the resultant product makes it fully biodegradable aerobically (litter) and anaerobically (landfill).

This is exactly what the Philippines needs, what with every local government unit fashioning and implementing local laws and ordinances banning the use of plastic contraptions for customers.

''Now labeled as ECM biodegradable plastics, these are biodegraded by naturally occuring bacteria and fungi. They can be completely biodegraded in 9 months to five years when disposed,'' says Enrique ''Ike'' Gabon whose company is the sole product and service provider in the Philippines of this 21st century plastic manufacture additive.

(Compared to ordinary plastic, or other pseudo-biodegradable kinds that can last virtually forever.)

Apparently, our government is oblivious of and uneducated on this vital information on ECM.

By logical reasoning, it is prime and proper that those in the policy-making agencies of government or regulators inform local plastic manufacturers about ECM's availability and its proven safety and environment friendly character.

For without such government's initiative, plastic manufacturers would face a bleak future. And when it does happen, the government loses taxes and fees, and workers lose their employment income.

Recently, I had a one-hour interesting conversation with Ike Gabon. He said ECM Masterbatch pellets are now utilized by big plastic manufacturers in more than 15 countries, notably, Italy, owing to the products' versatility.

''This is a new type of plastic that still has the same components of traditional plastic but now made wholly biodegradable,'' Ike states.

Needless to say, it is now being used in food-grade containers because it is FDA compliant and has no toxic residue.

''But what is more significant is that ECM additive does not require any special handling or changes in the manufacture process in order for it to work,'' reveals Ike.

Based on the evaluation activity of our DOST-ITDI ETV group, the Panel of Experts and supplier, ETV 11-014 was released upon verification of the test done on ECM products using ASTM D5338/ISO 14855 and ASTM 5511. After evaluating innovative environmental technology, the data presented are believed accurate and the analyses credible.

What about those so-called bio-plastics (PLA)? They claimed to be food-grade but are shunned by manufacturers because they are expensive to make and needed retooling of their processes. It biodegrades only in controlled composting facilities which our country lacks. It can't be thrown into a landfill and is also a non-recycalable item.

And those oxo-degradable plastics?

In spite of their reported popular use, they are potentially hazardous because they contains heavy metals. They just break into pieces when exposed to oxygen and light, according to the European Plastics Recyclers Association, these plastics actually have the potential to do more harm than good.

Meanwhile, Ike, whose work ethics turned him into an ardent environmentalist, has this wise counsel for everyone:

''Until ECM biodegradable plastics become widely available worldwide, the best and the most friendly manner to do is to make sure that you have completely re-used all your present plastics before sending them to the recycling bin,'' advises Ike Gabon. For more information contact at gtec98@rocketmail.com.

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