Biodegradable plastics and solving a pollution problem

As the global concern regarding plastic pollution continues to rise, the search for sustainable solutions has become more urgent than ever. In Australia and New Zealand, researchers are making significant strides towards this end, focusing particularly on the development of biodegradable plastics. This activity is supported by advances in the United States where there has been a recent surge in research investment in biodegradable plastics. Sophisticated tools by the world leading manufacturer, Columbus Instruments, have recently been installed in leading research institutes across the USA. The combined knowledge from Australian, New Zealand and US researchers is generating novel solutions for the plastic pollution problem.


Research Institutions are Increasing Funding for Biodegradable Plastics

New waves are being made in the field of environmental science and technology, with two leading institutions in the United States at the forefront of plastic biodegradable research: the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMassD) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

UMassD has recently opened a new Biodegradability Laboratory at their School of Marine Science and Technology. Concurrently, UCSB researchers are developing biodegradable ocean plastics, a significant milestone towards combating pollution.

The focus of the leading research revolves around the Micro-Oxymax Respirometer System manufactured by Columbus Instruments.

At UMassD, the Micro-Oxymax is being used to measure the rate of degradation of different plastic materials under various environmental conditions. The precise measurements provided by the Micro-Oxymax system enable researchers to compare the biodegradability of different materials, leading to the development of more efficient and eco-friendly alternatives.

Similarly, at UCSB, the system is used to monitor the biodegradation of their newly developed ocean plastics. It allows the research team to observe and measure the rate at which these plastics degrade in ocean-like conditions. The insight provided by the Micro-Oxymax system enables the team to fine-tune the composition of their biodegradable plastics to ensure they break down as efficiently as possible once in the marine environment.


What is the Micro-Oxymax System?

The Columbus Instrument’s Micro-Oxymax is a respiration system which can measure the minute changes in respiration of any system. The Micro-Oxymax offers a range of advantages and features that make it ideal for biodegradability studies. For instance, it offers high precision and sensitivity, with the ability to detect minute changes in gas concentrations. Its automated sampling and measurement capabilities allow for continuous monitoring of the biodegradation process without the need for manual intervention. This saves time and reduces the possibility of human error, increasing the accuracy and reliability of results.

Furthermore, the Micro-Oxymax system has an in-built capability for long-term studies. Its unique design ensures that it can run continuously for weeks or months, making it a valuable tool for studying long-term biodegradation processes. It is equipped with advanced software that provides data in real-time, allowing researchers to observe trends and changes as they happen.

Finally, the Micro-Oxymax system is designed for versatility. It can accommodate a variety of sample types, from solids and liquids to gases, making it a flexible tool for a range of research needs.

The Micro-Oxymax system has over 360 citations in the peer-reviewed scientific literature including leading journals such as PLoS One, Marine Biology and many more.


Australia and New Zealand and the Micro-Oxymax Respirometer

Plastic pollution is a significant concern for Australia and New Zealand. The marine environment is highly susceptible and sensitive to plastic pollution. Australia and New Zealand have some of the most unique and biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world. Therefore, there is a significant effort to minimise and eliminate pollutants such as plastics.

New Zealand, and regions within Australia such as Tasmania, promote food and other produce as clean and green. This tag provides significant economic benefits for exports to regions such as Asia. Minimising and removing plastic pollutants from the marine environment will continue the promotion of the clean and green image in New Zealand and Australia.

In addition, the Micro-Oxymax respiration system can aid in developing biodegradable plastics that can be effectively processed in Australian and New Zealand waste management facilities. By providing precise data on the respiration rates of microorganisms in compost or landfill conditions, it can help to ensure that new biodegradable materials can be effectively broken down within existing waste infrastructure.

The Columbus Instruments Micro-Oxymax system represents a pivotal tool for advancing biodegradable plastic research in Australia and New Zealand. By enabling precise and flexible measurements of biodegradation, it provides researchers with the data they need to develop innovative materials that can help to tackle the global plastic pollution crisis.

Biodegradable Plastics Explained



Further Reading