What is PBAT?
Have you been wondering about what goes into making our compostable Bags?
- PLA (Polylactide) made from abundant, surplus crops from sugars plants. Read more here about our PLA.
- PBAT (Polybutyrate Adipate Terephthalate)
How do you know if they are truly safe for the environment? One material that people question is Polybutyrate Adipate Terephthalate, or PBAT.
PBAT was developed to solve environmental pollution caused by conventional plastics. It is an extremely biodegradable material even degrade faster than PLA! Products made using PBAT decompose easily with the help of natural microorganisms and bacteria. PBAT is often used in bags to add flexibility, fast biodegradability, and works to speed up the rate of compostability to comply with compost regulations. It is a necessary ingredient in the product. Additionally, it is quite safe for the environment because it does not leave behind any harmful toxic residue. So why has it become a topic of discussion?
PBAT has been given something of a bad name because it is partially composed of petrochemicals, or oil. I know you're thinking, but oil is bad! Isn't it non-renewable? True, it is non-renewable; however, as mentioned earlier PBAT is not a harmful material. This makes sense when you remember that petroleum is the intensely heated and pressurized remains of decomposed sea creatures. Petroleum is separated using a technique called fractional distillation, i.e. separation of a liquid mixture into fractions differing in boiling point by means of distillation. Some fractions are taken off and formed into plastics, etc. and others are used to make PBAT. Here’s the crucial bit: It is what is done to them at this point that determines how they then behave, meaning whether or not they will break down quickly or last for centuries – like plastic. Traditional plastic is engineered to last as long as possible, but PBAT is engineered to be fully biodegradable when composted. This is due to the presence of butylene adipate groups.
While including PBAT may contribute to reduction in the earth's petroleum supply, it’s important to note that conventional plastics still contribute far more to fossil fuel reduction than the use of biodegradable polymers like PBAT. PBAT is much better for the environment than traditional plastic or synthetic material. This is because it does not leave any harmful toxins and decomposes at a much faster rate. Considering these points, the pros seem to outweigh the cons.
Excitingly, as I write, scientists are researching novel bio-based materials. Hopefully, new renewable resources will be discovered so that we can preserve the earth’s finite amount of oil. For now though, PBAT is one of the best materials to use and is not a harmful substance.
We are always exploring different technology, but so far we have not found a 100% bio-based, ie. non-oil derived binding agent for our purposes. We would love to hear from anyone who has … or purports to have …