Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 13

additives
Sustainable
antimicrobial
technologies
inspired
by nature
As global behaviours and practices
shift from a focus on single-use products
to sustainability, manufacturers are
dedicated to fi nding novel ways to keep
plastic products out of landfi lls and to
ensure they serve their purpose for
longer. Built-in antimicrobial technologies
can help to prevent the growth of
microbes on these man-made materials,
encouraging a culture of reuse to help
slow down the accumulation of waste in
the future. By Souvik Nandi, PhD, vice
president of technology & innovations,
Microban International
P
olymers and plastics
are ubiquitous in our
daily lives. They are
used extensively in
everything from construction
materials and synthetic textiles
to medical devices and
product packaging. As a result,
these materials are frequently
exposed to microorganisms,
which can accumulate on product
surfaces and lead to odours,
staining and degradation.
Unfortunately, this can result
in premature disposal of these
items into landfill, significantly
increasing their carbon footprint,
while generating substantial
waste and contributing to a
loss of revenue. Antimicrobial
additives are a viable solution to
this problem, off ering long-lasting
antimicrobial protection
to a wide range of products to
prevent microbial damage and
reduce waste.
The damaging eff ects
of microbes
Microorganisms - such as bacteria,
fungi and algae - are tiny
lifeforms that exist all around
us in vast quantities. They play
a critical role in maintaining
various ecosystems, by breaking
down organic matter for
conversion to new food and
energy sources, and they are
also important in maintaining
the microbiota within the human
body. However, microbes
can cause irreversible damage
to many man-made products,
leading to premature disposal
or costly repairs.1
Polymers like plastics, rubber
and synthetic textiles are particularly
susceptible to the metabolic
activities of microorganisms.
The enzymes and acids
released by microbes can break
down these substrates, causing
discoloration, malodour and
decay, and leading to structural
and functional damage.1,2
Environmental
implications of
microbial degradation
Disposing of and replacing
plastic materials before the end
of their intended lifespan can
have several detrimental consequences
for the environment.3
First, it wastes the valuable
resources that make up these
products, such as the petrochemicals
required to manufacture
olefinic polymers. Second,
excessive reliance on landfill
space can lead to a shortage of
disposal sites and may force the
formation of new waste facilities,
which can disrupt ecosysLandfills
can generate greenhouse
gases, contaminate soil and water
sources, and aff ect biodiversity in
surrounding areas.
tems and have serious impacts
on surrounding communities.
Landfills are known sources of
greenhouse gas emissions and,
as microbial enzymes cause
damaged products to decompose,
this could further exacerbate
climate change. One
promising innovation that can
help to tackle the damaging effects
of microorganisms - and
the resulting environmental implications
- is built-in antimicrobial
technologies that can combat
microbial propagation and
aid the preservation of plastic
products.
Prolonging product
lifespans with
antimicrobial additives
Eff ective antimicrobial additives
can be incorporated into a wide
range of polymers and plastic
substrates, using methods
fully compatible with existing
manufacturing processes. This
makes these protective technologies
accessible for numerous
applications and industries.
Once an antimicrobial has been
added to a polymer or plastic
substrate, it will work around
the clock to inhibit the growth
and survival of microorganisms
that may build up on the material.
The additive will be present
and active for the entire usable
continued on page 14
January/February 2024
13

Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024

Contents
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover1
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover2
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Contents
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 4
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 5
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 6
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 7
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 8
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 9
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 10
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 11
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 12
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 13
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 14
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 15
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 16
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 17
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 18
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 19
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 20
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 21
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 22
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 23
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 24
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 25
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 26
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 27
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 28
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 29
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 30
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 31
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 32
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 33
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 34
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover3
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover4
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