Truly environmentally-friendly, biodegradable security seals

Universeal UK pioneers first truly biodegradable environmentally-friendly security seals 

Universeal UK has this month begun trialling the incorporation of revolutionary new green, environmentally-friendly plastic technologies into our plastic security seals to mitigate against the environmental hazards of single-use plastics.

Awareness of the environmental damage caused by single-use plastics, especially in our rivers, lakes and oceans, has rightly taken centre-stage in the public consciousness in recent years. Whilst most security seals are manufactured from materials which are 100% recyclable, the difficulty of responsibly recycling security seals which might travel all over the world with their cargos has presented a major challenge for the security seal industry.

Formulating single-use plastics which can properly degrade into harmless by-products has been a major goal of the industry, but has until now been a huge technical challenge to solve. Whilst supposedly “biodegradable” and environmentally-friendly “green” plastic security seals have been around for years, unfortunately the materials they are made from have not always been the cure-all which some would claim.

The problem with many supposed green plastics is that they can actually contribute to the problem of plastic waste. For instance, “oxo-degradable” plastics have actually contributed to the problems of micro-plastics in recent years, and are now being banned through many parts of the world. Similarly, other supposedly green “compostable” plastics only actually bio-degrade in special industrial composting facilities, which break the plastic down by using a combination of oxygen and heat. However, this means that if the plastic goes to normal landfill (of which around 80% of plastic still does) it will not biodegrade, as in such landfills there is not enough oxygen or heat to do the job of breaking the plastic down. The plastic therefore continues to persist for many hundreds or thousands of years in landfill. Alternatively, they are simply burnt and thereby release the carbon and other damaging substances which any other type of plastic would do. A further serious problem with these types of compostable plastics is that they cannot be recycled along with other types of conventional plastic – meaning that they can potentially cause more harm than good.

Over the last few years Universeal UK has been monitoring the development of technologies which can provide a better solution for single-use security seals. We are now extremely pleased to report that we have identified a revolutionary type of additive which can be incorporated into plastic security seals and can successfully biodegrade the plastic in the environments in which discarded security seals are commonly found: our landfill sites, or even worse, our oceans. The additive - which can be added to conventional plastic without affecting its properties - acts to break down the plastic even in anaerobic environments, once exposed to the types of bacteria commonly present in all types of conventional landfills, oceans and streams.

Once in contact with this bacteria, plastics can start breaking down as quickly as 30 days from their time of entering into the environment – this is in contrast to conventional plastic which persists for hundreds if not thousands of years. By-products left behind are Humus and Methane (bio-mass and Bio-gas), which are non-toxic; humus can actually be used as new soil to grow plants, and methane may be harvested into fuel. Independent third-party tests have shown that the additive conforms to ASTM 5511 testing standards, which is an internationally-recognised measure of biodegradation in anaerobic conditions prevalent in landfill environments.

Our trials of this potentially revolutionary technology are ongoing. Truly biodegradable, environmentally-friendly and recyclable security seals will help you to reduce your use of conventional environmentally-damaging single-use plastics in your supply chain - we hope to launch our first product ranges by the end of this year. Please contact the team at [email protected] to let us know of your interest, so that we can keep you notified of the launch of this exciting new range.

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