Carbiolice, a France-based start-up whose self-described mission is to develop biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastic solutions with a ‘respectful environmental footprint’, has teamed up with agricultural film manufacturer Barbier Group on the development of a new PLA-based mulch film.
Carbiolice has developed an enzymatic additive called Evanesto that, when added to PLA compounds during the converting process, enables PLA to biodegrade at ambient temperatures, considerably speeding up the biodegradation process of the PLA at the end of life. The additive is based on a heat-protected enzyme produced by Carbiolice’s partner, Novozymes, and remains inactive throughout the product’s useful life.
Together the companies aim to create a new type of biodegradable mulch film with a higher content of bio-based plastics (PLA), containing the Evanesto additive. Current films contain a limited concentration of PLA. Adding Evanesto, enables a PLA content of 20% to be achieved, increasing the ratio of renewable resources and extending the lifespan, while remaining biodegradable in soil.
Following validation of the mechanical properties and residual enzymatic activity of the films produced on pilot installations at the beginning of the year, Carbiolice and Barbier Group extruded over 1000 m2 of mulch film last May for testing in real field conditions. Testing is currently in progress at several experimental horticultural stations.
The trial is scheduled to last 1 year, after which polyethylene mulch films and biodegradable films without Evanesto will be compared to mulch film produced with Evanesto. The full results of these tests are expected in May 2021.
Nadia Auclair, CEO at Carbiolice anticipates that legislation will favour accelerated adoption of biodegradable film to meet current health and environmental challenges.
In France, the use of oxodegradable plastics, i.e. not assimilable by micro-organisms and not compostable, will be banned from 1 January 2021.
Barbier Group, which has strong ties with its local area and has placed innovation and environmental issues as strategic priorities for its development, has worked alongside Carbiolice on technical projects since its creation.
“This project therefore naturally followed, aimed at providing mulch films with Evanesto inside that meet farmers’ requirements in terms of functionality and control over the kinetics of disintegration and biodegradation, while guaranteeing the quality of the soil,” said Serge Vassal, Barbier Group CEO.