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We hate greenwashing too. We are proud of the research, testing and certifications done to create the drinking straw that can change the world.

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The use of PHAs for foodservice applications is a new innovation but the highly biodegradable properties of PHA are well known and have been studied by the scientific community for well over a decade.

The development of phade® involved a rigorous testing and certification process performed by numerous independent labs and third-party certification bodies. When examining any products claiming to be green, sustainable, or eco-friendly, look for these gold standards in testing. We proudly display our certifications, so that when we say that phade® is working better for the planet, you know we have the stats to prove it.

BPI Certified Industrial Compostable

Certified BPI Compostable
Certification #10529093

The result: phade® passed the standard requirement (at least 90% biodegradation within six months) in these conditions.

TUV Certified Industrial Compostable

OK Compost TUV Austria

The result: phade® met the standard requirement (at least 90% biodegradation within six months) in these conditions.

phade Industrial Compostable Certifications

Industrial compostability is determined by ASTM D6400 Standard Specification for Labeling of Plastics Designed to be Aerobically Composted in Municipal or Industrial Facilities, which is a pass/fail standard. To pass ASTM D6400, the product must:

  • Biodegrade at least 90% within six months.
  • Disintegrate such that after composting for no more than 12 weeks, no more than 10% of the product’s original dry weight may be found in a 2 millimeter screen fraction.
  • Be non-toxic.
  • Contain no Heavy Metals or Fluorine.

BPI has certified our phade® straw as industrially compostable because it has passed ASTM D6400.

TUV Austria – has also certified our phade® straw as industrial compostable using the same ASTM D6400 pass/fail test and certification requirements as BPI.

TUV Certified for Home Compostability

The results: phade® exceeded the standard requirements for certification. Using ISO 14855, phade® biodegraded at least 90% in 90 days (the standard being within one year), and using ISO20200, phade® achieved 100% disintegration within 61 days (the standard being at least 90% of test material reduced to less than 2mm after 26 weeks). phade® passed TUV’s safety requirements for toxicity.

Phade TUV Home Compostable Certification

OK Compost TUV Austria

TUV Austria has developed a home compostable certification and has certified our phade straw as home compostable.

To obtain TUV certification for home compostable, a product must:

  • Biodegrade at least 90% within one year (using ISO 14855).
    phade met this requirement within 90 days.
  • Disintegrate such that after 26 weeks of composting at least 90% of the test material has been reduced to less than 2 millimeters (using ISO 20200).
    phade achieved 100% disintegration within 61 days.
  • Be non-toxic such that the product exerts no negative influence on quality of the compost.
  • Contain no Heavy Metals or Fluorine.

See phade in action:

phade straw biodegrading week 2
Week 2
phade straw biodegrading week 4
Week 4
phade straw biodegrading week 8
Week 8
phade straw biodegrading week 9
Week 9

Marine Biodegradation

ASTM – D6691

The result: met the standard requirement (90% biodegradation in 180 days) in just 98 days. Residual Water Raman Spectroscopy: Complete biodegradation, no microplastics. Residual Water NMR Spectroscopy: Complete biodegradation, no microplastics.

phade Marine Biodegradability Product Testing

ASTM D6691– Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials in the Marine Environment by a Defined Microbial Consortium or Natural Sea Water Inoculum

  • ASTM is an international standards setting organization with over 30,000 members who represent producers, users, consumers, government, and academia from more than 140 countries.
  • Tests performed at OWS Laboratory in Belgium.
  • Marine Biodegradation Test Results: 90% Biodegradation in 98 Days using gas evolution to measure biodegradation.
  • Note that the positive control of cellulose (paper) reached 92% biodegradation in the same time period.
  • Nothing will ever show 100% biodegradation because the microorganisms consuming the material will grow and reproduce, which accounts for the remaining percentage of biodegradation that cannot be captured through gas evolution.

Residual Water – Raman and NMR Spectroscopy Tests

Raman Spectroscopy

  • A non-destructive, analytical technique used in many applications where microscopic, chemical analysis and imaging is required.
  • Commonly used by polymer manufacturers to identify small particles in a film or material (for quality control purposes) and by pharmaceutical companies to identify compounds and for quality control purposes.

NMR Spectroscopy

  • An analytical chemistry technique used in quality control and research for determining the content and purity of a sample, as well its molecular structure.
  • Has an even higher sensitivity than Raman, and provides good resolution even on a very small sample.

Phade Residual Water – Raman and NMR Results

  • The remaining water (residual water) after a marine biodegradation test of phade® was collected for additional spectroscopy testing.
  • The solids remaining in the water were inorganic salts from the seawater inoculum used in the test.
  • Both spectroscopy and NMR spectroscopy showed no phade material remaining in the residual water after biodegradation.
  • phade = Complete biodegradation and NO microplastics.

Testing conducted at University of Georgia Lab (Raman Spectroscopy) and Danimer Scientific Laboratory, Athens, GA (NMR Spectroscopy).

The phade® TUV certifications and BPI certification specify minimum requirements for volatile solids content, prescribe limits on heavy metals and fluorine, and require passing certain eco-toxicity tests.

  • “From the results it can be concluded that Phade Straw fulfills the requirements on material characteristics (volatile solids, heavy metals and fluorine) as defined by EN 13432 (2000), NF T51-800 (2015), ASTM D6400 (2019), CAN/BNQ 0017-088 (2010) and ISO 17088 (2012).” Excerpt from Material Characteristics Report of OWS dated October 8, 2020.
  • Testing confirms no toxic effect on aquatic invertebrate daphnia magna.
  • Testing confirms no toxic effect on germination and growth of cress.
  • Testing confirms no toxic effect on germination and growth of barley.

Scientists have begun working on this issue.
They have made it easier to evaluate how to use biodegradation rates determined in laboratory conditions to what that actually means for diverse, real world marine conditions.
The goal of a recent study conducted by a team at the University of Queensland was to determine the rate of biodegradation of PHA in the natural marine environment and apply this to the lifetime estimation of various PHA products.
According to the study authors, “this provides the clarification required as to what ‘marine biodegradation of PHA’ means in practicality and allows the risks and benefits of using PHA to be transparently discussed.”

Source: “The rate of biodegradation of PHA plastics in the marine environment: A Meta-Study”, Dilkes-Hoffman,et al, The University of Queensland, Marine Pollution Bulletin 142 (2019) 15-24.

Lifetime values estimated using the 95% confidence interval for the mean of the rate of biodegradation (in years) of PHA in the marine environment.

PHA Straw – 3.6 – 8.4 months

The proper way to dispose of a phade straw is through composting. A phade straw is home and industrial compostable, so it will completely biodegrade in either environment. A phade straw should NEVER be disposed of in a marine environment; however, it was designed to be consumed by bacteria, so in the unfortunate circumstance where a phade straw might end up in an ocean, it will biodegrade because it will be consumed by the bacteria in the ocean.

If phade should mistakenly end up in a marine environment, it is preferred to traditional fossil fuel based plastics and even some “natural” alternatives because:

  • phade will sink and be far less likely to be ingested by, or harmful to, marine life, and
  • It does not result in microplastics.

A University study conducted in 2019 testing small quantities of PHA introduced to both fish and livestock found that fish actually grew larger, faster and with better overall digestive health than marine life that did not ingest PHA.

Source: Microbial Poly-3-Hydroxybutyrate (PHB) as a Feed Additive for Fishes and Piglets, May 2019, Biotechnology Journal 14(12):1900132 DOI:10.1002/biot.201900132

  • PHA is denser than water, so it is not expected to be found on the surface in a marine environment.
  • PHA contains heteroatoms in its backbone and is denser than water, meaning it is more likely to sink than a conventional polymer.
  • This suggests that PHA is likely to be in contact with sediment rather than be free-floating, and that its dispersal via ocean currents will be different to a conventional polymer (potentially remaining closer to its point of entrance to the ocean versus being distributed to the open ocean).
  • The fact that phade sinks will generally help speed the process of biodegradation.
  • Contact with sediment plays a significant role in influencing rates of biodegradation.
  • Biodegradation with sediment contact is faster than just in water. Sediment, and in particular deeper sediment layers, are suggested to host a larger consortium of microorganisms and will have low dissolved oxygen concentrations.
  • Furthermore, if PHA remains close to shore it would likely be exposed to higher temperatures and more active bacterial populations.

Source: The rate of biodegradation of PHA plastics in the marine environment: A Meta-Study”, Dilkes-Hoffman,et al, The University of Queensland, Marine Pollution Bulletin 142 (2019) 15-24.

  • Not only are PHA based products far more biodegradable than other biopolymers, in some environments, they are also more biodegradable than some of the non-plastic alternative products that are allowed under the straw bans that favor so-called “natural” products.
  • In one study, PHA experienced significant disintegration in a simulated marine environment but sugar cane lids, among other products, did not exhibit disintegration in the marine environment.
  • Other “natural” alternatives, such as bamboo, are designed to be reusable and will not break down in a marine environment.
  • Paper straws are often chemically treated (coated with wax or other materials), or made with adhesives, which impact their biodegradability.

Sources: “Biodegradation of Biodegradable and Compostable Plastics under Industrial Compost, Marine and Anaerobic Digestion.” Greene, J., California State University, Ecology, Pollution and Environmental Science Open Access (2018). “Banning Plastic Straws: The Beginning of the War Against Plastics .“ Mosquera, M.R.. Environmental and Earth Journal (2019).

Microplastics in our oceans and our food chain are a reason for all of us to be concerned. However, marine biodegradable PHA based products, such as our phade straw, do not result in microplastics.

  • When synthetic (traditional fossil fuel based) non-biodegradable plastics are littered in the ocean or on land, they break down and result in microplastics.
  • These materials break into smaller and smaller pieces until finally only tiny pieces of plastic (less than 5mm long) remain – these are “microplastics.”
  • In this context, “break down” simply means breaking apart.
  • The “breaking apart” of a product is not the same as the “biodegradation” of a product.
  • Biodegradation is a multi-step process in which microorganisms use a material as a source of carbon and energy. It is a biological process that consumes the entire material and results only in CO2, water and biomass (or methane if conditions are anaerobic).