Michigan State University, USA
Title: Understanding biodegradability – the science, the misuse, and true value proposition
Ramani Narayan is University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University -- the highest honor that can be bestowed on a faculty member. He is Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors; Fellow of ASTM & received ASTM award of merit -- the highest award given by the society to an individual member. He is Scientific Chair of the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) USA; and convener/technical expert on several ISO Standards committees. He has 200 refereed publications, 30 issued patents, and graduated 20 Ph. D and 25 Master’s students. He is a successful entrepreneur, having commercialized several bioplastics technologies.
Design for product biodegradability in conjunction with controlled, managed disposal systems like composting or anaerobic digestion can offer an environmentally responsible end-of-life value proposition. However, much confusion, misuse, and misleading claims abound in the market place. This lecture will discuss the science and issues surrounding biodegradability – what does the claim “biodegradable” mean? What value does biodegradability as an end-of-life solution offer ? Should an unqualified claim of “biodegradable” without any reference to time element, rate, and disposal environment be permitted? Are such statements truthful or misleading? Is “marine biodegradability” a solution or exacerbate the problem of plastics waste in the ocean. We will discuss these issues on a science basis and review the International Standards and regulations in this space as well as learn accurate reporting and communication of “biodegradable” value attribute.