The term biodegradability is common knowledge today for the serious environmental problems that our society is facing. Biodegradability is a very simple concept, closely related to the “natural world” because nature itself is involved in this process.
A substance biodegrades when, whatever its conditions, its decomposition process is performed by microorganisms that can be found in nature and that are suitable for this activity. Biodegradability is the characteristic of any natural substance or material of being assimilated by specific organisms becoming thus part of a natural cycle. Biodegradable materials are digested by microorganisms naturally present in the environment; if the level of moisture is high enough those microorganisms digest and degrade organic molecules giving inter alia water, CO2 and heat. The final products of this process spontaneously return into the natural cycle and are non-toxic. Plastic materials, as per today, are highly durable with a very long degradation time.
Our challenge is to engineer new polymers having all the required properties while in use but biodegrading at the end of their life cycle.
Galatea Bio Tech’s final target is the production of two families of biodegradable and compostable plastics: PLA (Polylactic acid) and PHA/PHB/PHV (Polyhydroxyalkanoates-Butyrate-Valerate).