Nature Bio Answers Questions about Our Innovations in Bioplastics

What does Nature Bio do?
For more than a decade, Nature Bio has been creating a cleaner world and a healthier global product marketplace. As an innovative leader in the biotechnology industry, we were founded on the belief that most plastic products intended for short-term use can be manufactured with biodegradable polymers. And we have proved it.

We produce resins that are used by major brands to make products that are fully biodegradable and can replace many plastics made with petrochemicals.
We also provide our business partners with research, development and toll-manufacturing services for biobased materials and other applications.
What specific products does Nature Bio offer?
Our product applications include additives, aqueous coatings, monofilaments, extrusion coating, extrusion lamination, film resins, blown film, hot-melt adhesives, injection molding, and thermoforming polymers.

We own more than 150 patents in nearly 20 countries for a range of manufacturing processes and biopolymer formulations, including Nodax®. Nature Bio’s biopolymer resins, including various combinations of PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) and PLA (polylactic acid), are created through a proprietary reactive-extrusion process.

We also customize a wide variety of PLA products for end uses specified by our customers. Our PHA/PLA formulations are designed to meet a wide spectrum of technical characteristics, allowing customization to fit specific customer requirements. As a result, Nature Bio offers improved product performance for biopolymer resins made primarily from materials that are compostable and biodegradable.

What services does Nature Bio provide?
Nature Bio manufactures Nodax® as well as other biopolymers to meet our customers’ demands.

In addition, we offer customized research-and-development services for clients who need formulations of biopolymers to meet exact performance requirements.

We also provide specialty toll-manufacturing services that allow us to manufacture items using our customers’ own formulations, materials and instructions. By offering this customized research-and-development service, paired with our 100 million pounds of capacity for reactive extrusion, Nature Bio serves as a valuable partner for many companies.

Is Nature Bio PHA safe?
Nature Bio PHA was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Food Substance Contact in March, 2014. No toxins are used or created during the manufacture of PHA biopolymers.

Is NATURE BIO® a biodegradable alternative to petrochemical plastics?
Yes, NATURE BIO® is a reliable biodegradable alternative to petrochemical plastics, a fact that has been proven by strict testing.

NATURE BIO® is certified to biodegrade in most environments, including marine, freshwater and soil. It will also degrade in industrial composting facilities and home compost bins. These facts are supported by widely accepted international standards for testing biodegradability, including TUV Austria standards.

There will be variability in how quickly PHA-based materials degrade depending on real-world settings. To account for this, we designed Nature Bio® to degrade as quickly as possible in a variety of environments. Our material will completely degrade in months, leaving behind natural substances such as carbon dioxide, water and biomass. Petrochemical plastics, on the other hand, can leave behind microplastics that persist in the environment for hundreds of years.

What are the proper ways to dispose of PHA-based products?
There are several options for properly disposing of PHA, such as within industrial composting facilities. Disposal options will vary by community, so we encourage consumers to research local options for industrial composting and anaerobic digesters, both of which will quickly biodegrade PHA.

PHA is also a certified home compostable material, unlike other known plastics and petrochemical materials. This means PHA will biodegrade in home compost bins that consumers set up in their own backyard to dispose of food waste.

Will PHA degrade in landfills?
Yes, PHA will degrade in landfills, but only as long as the conditions favor biodegradation. In other words, a PHA-based material will biodegrade up until the point the landfill is sealed. After the landfill is sealed, the PHA is sequestered into the ground as a renewable source of carbon.

What about recycling? Can PHA be recycled alongside other material streams?
With the right infrastructure in place, PHA can be separated from other materials and recycled in a separate waste management stream or sent to an industrial composting facility. However, until PHA-based products reach a larger scale of commercial production, this option may not be widely available.

Unfortunately, straws and many other products made of petrochemical plastic cannot be recycled today. The EPA reported that the overall amount of recycled plastics was three million tons in 2018 for a recycling rate of only 8.7 percent of all plastic waste. Unrecyclable plastic can escape from proper waste management streams, which means a significant volume of petrochemical plastics may end up in the environment where they can take hundreds of years to break down.

As recycling infrastructure continues to develop and fill these gaps, PHA is one of the only known safeguards today for handling plastic that escapes proper waste treatment. PHA reduces the environmental impact of plastic waste by ensuring products degrade in a matter of months, rather than centuries, if they end up in a landfill or the environment.

Does PHA negatively impact recycling streams? Does it contaminate petrochemical plastics?
No, PHA-based products can be sorted out of today’s petrochemical recycling streams by modern sorting equipment. These machines recognize the unique chemical makeup of PHA and can divert it to a separate stream where it will not contaminate other materials.

What substances are left behind after PHA biodegrades? Do they leave behind microplastics?
Unlike petrochemical plastics, PHA can completely degrade without leaving behind microplastics. If a PHA-based material is left in the environment, bacteria and fungi will break it down until all that remains is carbon dioxide, water and biomass. These remaining substances are essential elements that help ecosystems thrive.

Does the fact that PHA is biodegradable encourage consumers to litter?
We do not believe the fact that PHA is biodegradable will encourage consumers to litter, and there are no studies to suggest that will be the case. Our goal is to help ensure this by educating consumers to recognize when they have purchased a biodegradable product and how to properly dispose of it.

If you have any other questions, please contact us!