What is Oxo Biodegradable Plastic: A Definition and Benefits

Learning what is oxo biodegradable plastic can help us understand what type of biodegradable materials we could use and how to recycle them. Oxo biodegradable plastic is different than the rest of biodegradable materials. Biodegradable bags are made from additive-based materials in order to hasten degradation upon exposure to certain conditions. Oxo biodegradable materials degrade by oxidation, being stimulated by the chemical additives.

The process of degradation starts with a chemical process which is then followed by a biological one. The list of products which contain oxo biodegradable plastic includes trays, shrink and pallet wrap, milk pouches, lids, landfill covers, labels, clamshells, carryout bags, caps, bottles, blister packaging, agricultural sheeting.

What is oxo biodegradable plastic and how does it work?

The process of degradation includes the reaction of large polymer molecules of plastics with the oxygen in the air. The polymer molecules contain hydrogen and carbon. The reaction appears even without pro-degradant additives. However, it will happen at a slower rate. Hence, when we discard conventional plastics, they persist for a longer time in the environment. The TDPA formulations of EPI accelerate or catalyze the reaction, increasing the rate of the degradation by a few orders of magnitude.

The products can degrade about 100 to 1000 times faster, determining TDPA-incorporated products to degrade and disintegrate ranging from a few weeks to 1-2 years. However, the speed of the disintegration process depends on the disposal environment and their formulation. The lower molecular weight fragments biodegrade into biomass, water and carbon dioxide in laboratory simulated composts.

Manufacturers of polymer resins add antioxidant chemicals to their products, preventing oxidation during thermal processing into products. In the case of catalyzed oxo degradation chemistry, as long there is any residual antioxidant in the plastic, the catalytic additive does not have any effect. The antioxidants are consumed in the process, as they do their job.

This is extremely important in developing shelf and service life of the products which incorporate TDPA. Hence, the oxo biodegradable products can be safely recycled in existing recycle streams before they exhibit visual signs of disintegration or brittleness.

Some colorful plastic bottles

Oxo biodegradable plastic does not affect the environment the way regular plastic does because it oxides.

The advantages of using oxo biodegradable plastic


Oxo biodegradable products which incorporate TDPA feature similar physical properties, being indistinguishable in performance and look with respect to regular products before the onset of degradation.

Controlled lifetime

The shelf life of oxo biodegradable plastics which incorporate TDPA can be customized depending on customer requirements. This can range from a few months to several years.


The degradable plastic additive technology of EPI applies to conventional commodity plastics. This is processed by using identical conditions, as required for the unmodified resins.

Degradable and biodegradable

Scientific studies and test results indicate that TDPA incorporated products biodegrade, disintegrate and degrade.


The cost of products which incorporate TDPA is a few percentage higher compared to the unmodified ones. They are far less expensive than products which use other biodegradable and degradable technologies.

Recyclable and reusable

The products which incorporate TDPA additives, before the starting of the degradation process, can be reused. They can be compatible with other recycling streams at the post-consumer level or during post production.


The degradable products which use EPI technology to be developed are safe for food contact applications and are non-toxic.


Many international brand names in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, USA, and Europe use plastic products which incorporate TDPA. They make BOPP films, cling film, carrier bags, and many other useful products.

World leader

EPI is the world leader and pioneer of oxo biodegradable plastic technology.

Carbon emission reduction

By using oxo biodegradable plastic, we reduce the amount of carbon emissions during the process of manufacturing bioplastics. The normal manufacturing of plastics emits about 4 tons of greenhouse emissions. On the other hand, the development of oxo biodegradable plastic emits 0.8 tons of carbon. They still add to the greenhouse effect and climate change.

Occupying less landfill area

People discard the products which are non-biodegradable into landfills. Hence, instead of using that land area for industrial applications, agriculture or buildings, they use it to deposit garbage. If we use oxo biodegradable plastic, we will be able to reduce landfills since we will no longer need them. After degrading, the soil absorbs the oxo biodegradable products.

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The disadvantages of using oxo biodegradable plastic

Need for composters

In order to turn oxo biodegradable products into compost, we need industrial composters. In some countries, the availability of this equipment can be problematic. If the countries do not benefit from special equipment, then people cannot discard the oxo biodegradable plastic properly.

Contamination risk

The main concern is to avoid mixing oxo biodegradable plastic with non-biodegradable plastics when you throw them away. The problem is that not everyone knows how to differentiate biodegradable plastic from the rest of the plastics. When people mix these two types, they contaminate the oxo biodegradable plastic. Therefore, you can no longer reuse it. Hence, it will end up in landfills, adding to the high volume of garbage.

Engineering issues

Biodegradable plastics come from organic sources, from farms that grow corn and soybeans. Nevertheless, farmers spray the organic plants with pesticides that contain chemicals. The chemicals can contaminate the crops. Hence, specialists can transfer and include them in the product.

Summing up

By finding out what is oxo biodegradable plastic, we can learn how to distinguish it from the rest of the plastic. They work differently when they degrade. Therefore, we need to separate them in order to avoid contaminating the biodegradable plastic. Nowadays, oxo biodegradable plastics are more popular due to the increasing awareness regarding climate change and environmental problems.

Although this type of plastic also has its disadvantages, it still helps us focus on the benefits of using biodegradable plastic. We can learn about its importance by looking at its effects on a global scale. By using products made out of oxo biodegradable plastic, we can protect the environment, diminishing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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