Source: Polymateria

Polymateria’s in-house laboratory at Imperial College London

A British firm which has created technology that transforms plastic packaging, making it fully biodegrade when exposed to the open environment, has secured £20m in a funding round.

Polymateria’s proprietary biotransformation technology can be readily added to existing plastic packaging manufacturing processes, so that after a pre-determined period the plastic breaks down into a waxy mix of water, CO2 and biomass without leaving any microplastic or toxic residue if it winds up in nature.

The funding round was led by Singapore-based private equity fund ABC Impact and sustainable chemical company Indorama Ventures. The cash injection will be used to “accelerate commercialisation of Polymateria’s biotransformation technology on a global scale” it said.

The money will also be invested into the firm’s in-house laboratory at Imperial College London to “boost its R&D capabilities”.

The tech is already being used in a broad range of packaging types including bread bags, shrink wrap, detergent bottles, flower sleeves, toilet paper bags, confectionery wrappers, thin wall containers, drinking cups and fresh produce bags.

“Polymateria’s technology can be uniquely time-controlled to provide a use-phase for the product of anywhere between six to 24 months, allowing time for it to be used, reused and recycled,” the company explained, “while fully returning to nature if it escapes collection systems, as 32% of plastic does globally.”

Fmcg was an “ideal application” of the technology, a Polymateria spokeswoman added.

“We realised the problem with plastic is its persistence, particularly as it enters nature and becomes micro and then nano plastic,” Polymateria co-founder Lee Davy-Martin told The Grocer. “So we wanted to address this seemingly impossible material sceince challenge by making it fully perishable.”

The company – which is chaired by former Morrisons and M&S CEO Marc Bolland – has already run several trials of its proprietary technology. Last summer it worked with Twickenham Stadium to provide drinks cups with “unique self-destructing plastic technology” to rugby fans.

It has also been deployed by 7-Eleven in Taiwan in a range of takeaway food packaging applications.

“With the strength of Polymateria’s scientific underpinning and the vast scalability of its technology, we believe the solution developed by the company can help address challenges in plastic packaging related pollution,” said Sugandhi Matta, chief impact officer at ABC Impact.