South Florida Scientist Has Figured Out How to Make Plastic 100 Percent Biodegradable

Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. This is great for storing a tub of mayonnaise in your fridge, but awful for the environment. Millions of tons of plastic pile up in landfills and oceans. There have been some ideas to address the plastic crisis, but none have been as revolutionary as the one created in South Florida.

“It’s quite literally a modern miracle,” says Miguel Perez, a managing partner at Timeplast, the Miami company that has patented the solution. “This is the only viable and safe way to get rid of plastic and essentially disintegrate it.”

The solution was eight years in the making. It's the brainchild of Manuel Rendon, a Venezuelan engineer who moved to Miami last year. Whereas other plastic manufacturers have used solutions that are only partially biodegradable, Rendon says he has patented a way to make all fossil-fuel based plastics 100 percent biodegradable.

Or, as the patent states: "Several formulations for environmentally-friendly compositions have been created in the past. None of them, however, use an undercover additive derived from the plastic targeted for degradation, hidden in a chemical cloak."

The initial price is $15 per pound of the additive. One pound of additive alters approximately 100 pounds of raw plastic. 

Perez tries not to bog down investors with the science. He explains that manufacturers can create a timeframe for how fast they want the plastic to break down. Speed is determined by the amount of additive they use in manufacturing. It breaks down the strong carbon bonds until the plastic has transformed into paraffin wax, a colorless, biodegradable jelly.  It can even work without oxygen.

Perez says Rendon spent years perfecting the solution.

In January 2014, Rendon applied for the U.S. patent. Once it was approved, he resigned his position as the environmental coordinator at PepsiCo Venezuela in Caracas and moved to Miami to launch Timeplast.

Perez says Timeplast secured a contract with Valgroup, the large Brazilian plastic manufacturer,  and would like build a new factory.  In upcoming weeks, Perez says Timeplast will be releasing a video that shows the cap to a plastic water bottle can disintegrate within two hours. "You don’t try to explain a miracle — you show it,” Perez says.
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson