UK biotech company Toraphene says it is preparing to unveil the world’s first truly biodegradable, compostable and commercially viable alternative to plastic packaging. The company has developed a new material, also called Toraphene, that uses biopolymers that “compost naturally and biodegrade without human intervention, even in the ocean.” The biopolymers are combined with graphene, a variant of carbon (or allotrope , to be precise) whose modern rediscovery and isolation at the University of Manchester in 2004 led to a Nobel Prize. While biodegradable plastics currently exist, they rely on commercial composting, which uses energy to heat the compost, as well as presenting other logistical challenges. For example, in 2019, the BBC found that compostable plastics in Wales were going to landfills rather than being composted because almost all local councils were unable to deal with them. In addition, some bioplastics produce methane gas when they decompose, a compound with a global warming potential 25 times that of CO2. Toraphene can be optimized to mostly produce CO2 along with mulch that can be used to fortify topsoil. Gaute Juliussen, CEO and Founder of Toraphene, commented: “Amidst a climate crisis, plastic waste is known to be a huge, global problem and […]

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