Single Use Plastics, are being banned or foregone voluntarily for good reason. But replacing them is very tough. A new product from US based Cove could change that
Cove claims to be the first bottle of water made ‘entirely of biodegradable material that produces zero toxic waste’. The material, PHA, will break down fully into CO₂, water, and organic waste, in compost or a landfill, and even in the ocean.
It can solve the problem that plastic bottles have created over time. Plastic bottles or any other form of plastic are generally non-biodegradable. They simply disintegrate over time into smaller and smaller pieces, partly through photodegradation (read Microplastics). The problem is this could be hundreds of years or longer.
The company says Cove is BPA-free. BPA is an industrial chemical that is used to make certain plastics and resins; none of those are used in Cove bottles. The material PHA stands for polyhydroxyalkanoate. It is an FDA-approved, naturally occurring biopolymer. PHA is made by bacteria that feed on sugars, vegetable oils, starches, or greenhouse gases. It can be used to make packaging that is durable and works like regular plastic in hot and cold environments.
Alex Totterman, founder of Cove adds that PHA is the ‘only polymer that’s fully biodegradable in all conditions’.
According to the company, their bottle will take 5 years to fully biodegrade in soil, which is one of the least conducive to biodegradation. It adds that in compost, landfills, oceans or fresh water the biodegradation will take less time, while 99% of the plastic ever created will still exist on for at least a thousand years.
What makes it different from other bottles is that it removes the need to recycle completely as it does not contain any metal, or glass. All of Cove’s manufacturing, filling, and packing are based out of California and a launch is planned in LA. The shelf life of cove bottles is 6 months and is refillable. On hitting the use by date, buyers can drop it into a compost bin. The bottles will be made available in New York and later will be made available in other cities in US. Why this is important is that other ‘biodegradable’ plastics so far have required industrial recycling or composting to be tackled, something Cove claims is not he case with its offering.
Another such innovation was done by Ooho, which in 2017, came out with an edible water bottle, made of seaweed extract. Each globule contains nine ounces of water and the container itself can be eaten. If not consumed, it is biodegradable in 4-6 weeks. The product is tasteless, although flavors can be added to it, just like flavored water. The Ooho is made by Skipping Rocks Lab, a London-based packaging start-up. There is Choose Water bottle, developed by a British scientist James Longcroft. The outer case is made from 100% recycled sustainably sourced paper pulp, while the waterproof inner lining is made from fully biodegradable and sustainable materials.
All these products hope to replace millions of water bottles thrown away each year that end up in the ocean which are choking the life out of the oceans flora and fauna.