It is unlikely that consumers understand the difference between biodegradable, compostable, and oxo-biodegradable products. The oxo-biodegradable products are bags composed of traditional polyolefin materials such as LDPE, LLDPE, and HDPE with (typically) specific metal salts added to speed up the breakdown of these bags under what the Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics Association refers to as the “natural degradation process”.
Oxo-biodegradable products have become more sophisticated over time, but still carry some of the scars associated with early launch challenges. This includes the residual chemicals left in soils and landfills after decomposition, and the true degree of decomposition the bags or films experience. Both of these technical challenges have been addressed to some degree over time.
FTC’s contention is that the mechanism for breakdown of oxo-biodegradable bags and films – the presence of oxygen, is not available in typical end of life situations for most bags. Since most waste bags are landfilled, the concern remains that oxo-biodegradables will not have the ability to degrade in large piles without the presence of open oxygen streams within a twelve month period.
Genarex features BYLOX, a bio-based additive, which can be readily added to various plastic bag formulations to improve ductility, oxygen barrier properties, and/or reduce cost. BYLOX is currently undergoing ASTM D6400 compostability testing, however is NOT an oxo-biodegradable additive.