photo-degradable plastics

biodegradables & photo-degradable – photo-degradable plastics are mainly made up of plastics with additives.

what are photo-degradable plastics?

Photo-degradable materials are mainly made of standard conventional plastics such as PE, PP, PET etc. with some “special” additives. These additives are catalytic materials which help the products to biodegrade in a two-step process: oxidation and then biodegradation. 

These catalytic materials are usually based on transition metals of cobalt (Co), magnesium (Mg), or manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), iron (Fe), or nickel (Ni) into the polymer. These metal ions are susceptible to light, heat, moisture, and mechanical stress and as such, weaken the tensile strength of the polymer chain.

But, with various types of catalytic additives incorporated into different plastics, the degree and the rate of degradation differs significantly. Therefore, standard tests should be carried out in the products made of photo-degradable in order to understand and verify the biodegradation process. 

The most popular methods to assess the biodegradability of photo-biodegradables is through exposing them under standard light and heat conditions using accelerated weathering chambers.  The tests are standardised and presented on the following:


  1. ASTM D5071 – 06(2013): Standard Practice for Exposure of Photodegradable Plastics in a Xenon Arc Apparatus – photo-degradable
  2. ASTM D5208 – 14: Standard Practice for Fluorescent Ultraviolet (UV) Exposure of Photodegradable Plastics – photo-degradable.


We can work with you to design the best test programme for your product, get in touch today.


why impact?

Impact Solutions is an independent materials testing and innovative problem-solving provider. Our dynamic team is flexible and adaptable in using their diverse range of knowledge and skills to offer bespoke solutions. Members of impact’s team have over 30 years of polymer experience and are internationally regarded as product and material experts. We can often identify potential sources of weakness in products without even undertaking testing. We will work with you and believe in developing commercially focused and sustainable results for our customers.

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