Frequently Asked Questions

This knowledge base features critical sustainability questions and answers.

Company

When was Smart Plastic founded?

Smart Plastic Technologies was founded by Tim Murtaugh and Michael Stephens in 2016.

Why was Smart Plastic founded?

Co-founders Tim and Michael saw an urgent need in the polymer industry to develop a solution to the plastic waste crisis. While our flagship product SPTek ECLIPSE™ addresses the immediate need to support the end-of-life management of plastic, everyone at Smart Plastic knows that this is just a part of the solution as we move towards a circular and regenerative economy. The company is continually innovating to maximize the potential of plastic for both people and planet.

What is the company’s mission?

Smart Plastic’s mission is to reduce the environmental impact of plastic and to maximize its potential for both people and planet.

What is your best-selling product?

Currently, our SPTek ECLIPSE™ Stretch Film is satisfying a major market gap and has become our best-selling product. This product has addressed a critical gap in the shipping and transportation industry by providing a sustainable alternative to conventional stretch film for load containment without sacrificing on performance.

How is Smart Plastic reducing the environmental impact of plastic?

Plastic is ubiquitous and plays an integral role in our global economy. Smart Plastic’s current lineup of products and additives provide immediate solutions to address plastic and food waste, with significant research and development targeting long-term solutions.

What are the cornerstones of the company?

We have three cornerstones that are supported by two additional business pillars.

Cornerstones:

  • ECLIPSE solutions
  • Bio-based resin systems
  • Closed-loop recycling solutions

Business pillars:

  • Strategic partnerships
  • Sustainability leadership and education
What countries do you work in?

Smart Plastic additives and products are proudly produced in the U.S.A. However, we work with global partners in North America, Europe, and Asia that sell their ECLIPSE-enabled products around the world!

What kind of bio-based solutions do you have?

Currently, we offer SPTek OYSTERLEAN™, an additive that reduces the environmental impact of conventional plastic with bio-based carbon sourced from oyster shells. This technology improves the mechanical characteristics of plastic, reduces processing times, temperatures and the dependence on fossil fuel-based resins.

At Smart Plastic, we understand the importance of a transition to bio-based plastics and this is reflected in our research and development activities. We see the potential for mass adoption of drop-in solutions and are continually working with our strategic and technical partners to deliver market-ready alternatives.

Learn more about OYSTERLEAN™ here.

What is a strategic partner?

At Smart Plastic, a strategic partner is a leading organization that we are deeply aligned with in our desire to create lasting and positive change regarding the environmental impact of plastic. We collaborate with our strategic partners in many ways, from the joint development and commercialization of products to the sharing of industry expertise, networks and supply chains.

View our current strategic partners here.

What is a technical partner?

Technical partners are industry leading organizations that help to independently verify the power of our technology. These third-party organizations are integral to our research and development, supporting us through research and development, testing, compliance and certifications.

View our current technical partnerships.

What industry associations are you a part of?

We are active members of the following associations:

  • FPA (Flexible Packaging Association)
  • SPC (Sustainable Packaging Coalition)
  • PAC Global
  • PIA (Plastics Industry Association)
  • SPE (Societ of Plastics Engineers)
  • AMI (Applied Market Information)

Sustainability

What is the circular economy and regeneration model?

While no system is perfect, it cannot be ignored that our current model of produce, use, and discard is doing irreversible damage to our planet. The following two models seek to address the damaging aspects of our current product and service design processes, and even detail to an extent how to repair what has already been inflicted on planet Earth.

  • Circular economy: The circular economy is a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.
  • Regeneration model: Regenerative design is a process-oriented whole systems approach to design. The term "regenerative" describes processes that restore, renew or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials.
What are microplastics?

Microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment resulting from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste. Microplastics are 0.1 μm−5 mm.

What’s the difference between aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation?

There are two ways organic items biodegrade: aerobic biodegradation and anaerobic biodegradation.

Aerobic biodegradation is ****the breakdown of organic material by microorganisms when oxygen is present. Aerobic biodegradation produces more carbon dioxide than methane.

Anaerobic biodegradation happens in the absence of oxygen by anaerobic microorganisms. Anaerobic biodegradation produces more methane than carbon dioxide.

Where do you source your information?

Transparent and educational thought leadership is a key business support at Smart Plastic. We pride ourselves on providing the highest level of sourced information to our clients and anyone who comes across our communication platforms.

We rely on peer-reviewed research conducted by non-governmental or non-profit organizations. We look for content that has been referenced repeatedly in scholarly articles and that clearly outlines the study financers and any affiliations. This checklist ensures we are using credited and trusted sources in our communications.

ECLIPSE™

What is the purpose of SPTek ECLIPSE™?

ECLIPSE™ is our flagship technology that mitigates the environmental impact of plastic waste, without impacting recyclability. ECLIPSE™ acts as a crucial safety net in case plastic products evade the recycling system, ensuring they do not persist in the environment for generations. This technology is a critical part of the solution to global plastic waste.

Should I throw out an ECLIPSE™ enabled product?

First and foremost, all ECLIPSE™ enabled products are designed to be recycled. ECLIPSE™ technology is a critical safety net should products evade the recycling system, not an excuse to incorrectly dispose of plastic.

What is bio-assimilation?

Bio-assimilation is the final and conclusive stage of biodegradation where microorganisms can convert the material into CO2, water, and biomass.

How does ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation work?

ECLIPSE bio-assimilation technology causes the complete molecular transformation of plastic. In other words, it breaks the carbon-to-carbon bonds within the polymer molecules, allowing microorganisms to feed on the available carbon. Once this process is initiated, it becomes a runaway freight train that can't be stopped, resulting in zero microplastics.

Here’s a step-by-step explanation of what happens during the bio-assimilation process.

  • At the end of an ECLIPSE™ enabled product’s functional life, the molecular structure of the polymer within the material has a molecular mass of approximately 200,000 Daltons.
  • ‍Stage 1 (200,000 Da): The free radical process begins and carbon-to-carbon bonds within the material begin to break. The molecular mass of the material rapidly reduces as the long-chain molecular structure transforms into shorter and shorter chains.
  • Stage 2 (40,000 Da): As the molecular transformation continues, these shorter chain molecular structures change from being hydrophobic (repelling water) to being hydrophilic (attracting water), surrounding them with microorganism-rich water (known as a bio-film).
  • Stage 3 (5,000 Da): As the free radical process continues to transform the molecular structure and expose more and more carbon, the surrounding microorganisms begin to utilize this carbon as nutrients.
  • Stage 4 (0 Da): As the microorganisms consume all of the available carbon, the molecular mass of the original polymer continues to reduce until there is nothing left but water, C0₂ and biomass.
How long does the bio-assimilation process take?

The bio-assimilation process takes between 6-42 months depending on the type of product and the environmental conditions in which it ends up.

At the end of the bio-assimilation process, what is left over?

CO2, water and biomass. No microplastics are left behind.

What conditions impact the performance of ECLIPSE™?

The length of time an ECLIPSE™ enabled product takes to fully bio-assimilate depends on the environment it lands in. Ideal conditions include high UV exposure, heat, humidity and availability of microorganisms. Poor conditions include low UV exposure, heat, humidity and availability of microorganisms.

Can you recycle ECLIPSE™ enabled products?

Yes! First and foremost, ECLIPSE™ enabled products are designed to be recycled. The addition of ECLIPSE™ technology does not negatively impact the recyclability of the products or the recycle stream, provided the plastic has been collected and recycled before the bio-assimilation process has begun. If the material still has the mechanical characteristics of its original product, it can be recycled. The addition of ECLIPSE technology acts as a safety net in the event that the item evades the recycling system. It is not meant to encourage disposal in landfill.

What is a dalton?

A Dalton (Da) is a unit of molecular mass used in biochemistry. This unit of mass is incredibly small, with 1 Da equal to the weight of a single carbon-12 atom.

What is a functional life span?

A functional life span is the period of time that a product is designed to last before the onset of the bio-assimilation process. It is designed around the length of time a product needs to be functional, so that it can be effectively used, collected and recycled before the onset of the bio-assimilation process.

What is the free radical process?

The free radical process causes the breaking of carbon-to-carbon bonds within the polymer molecules. During this process, electrons break free and attach to other molecules to create new compounds. This process supports the molecular transformation of ECLIPSE™ enabled material so that it can be utilized by microorganisms as a food source.

What is a stabilizer and how are they used in ECLIPSE™?

There are two types of stabilizers present within ECLIPSE™.

A 'thermal stabilizer' protects ECLIPSE™ during production by ensuring it survives the extreme heat and pressure during the production process.

A 'functional stabilizer' ensures that the product's functional life span is reached. This is programmed into each product based upon how long it needs to be in use for or stored before the bio-assimilation process commences.

How do we know that the bio-assimilation claims are true?

We have conclusively proven our ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation technology through rigorous independent third-party testing and a world’s first C-13 bio-assimilation study conducted at LMPE, a leading Ecosustainable Polymeric Material Laboratory located in Italy. ECLIPSE™ technology is also compliant with recognized ASTM standards.

What is the C-13 bio-assimilation test?

Together with LMPE, Pisa University, CNR Laboratories, and other university bio-science labs, we designed and conducted the first-ever C-13 carbon labeling test to determine bio-assimilation in ECLIPSE™ enabled plastic. This bio-assimilation test conclusively tracks the origin of carbon within a closed environment using Carbon-13.

The methodology of the C-13 bio-assimilation test is quite simple: the test took ECLIPSE™ enabled material and fed it to a colony of microorganisms in order to prove bio-assimilation. To track the amount of carbon given off during the test and the growth of the colony, proving bio-assimilation, the researchers used carbon labeling with Carbon-13 atoms. The carbon labeling showed that the locked hydro-carbon chains in the plastic broke down to an open carbon source which the colony of microorganisms could use as a fuel source, breaking the material down completely with no microplastics left behind.

How do we prove the efficacy of ECLIPSE™ in commercial products?

Supported by the results of our world’s first C-13 bio-assimilation test, we conduct a multiple tests on third-party products. The ‘Standard Test’ measures the CO2 and biomass within a closed environment containing a colony of microorganisms, and the ‘Expedited Test’ detects carbonyl groups to prove that the molecules have reached sub-5000 daltons. The combination of these tests unequivocally proves the efficacy of ECLIPSE.

How long can I use an ECLIPSE™ enabled product before it starts to bio-assimilate?

Each ECLIPSE™ enabled product has a tailor-made functional life span. For instance, SPTek ECLIPSE™ Stretch Film has a guaranteed functional life span of 2-years. It is only once the stabilizers run out at the end of this programmed period that the bio-assimilation process begins.

Does SPTek ECLIPSE affect the performance characteristics of plastic?

ECLIPSE™ enabled products go through rigorous efficacy and performance testing to determine that each product performs exactly like the original product. The addition of SPTek ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation technology does not alter the benefits of conventional plastic products.

What standards is ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation in compliance with?
  • EU Directive 2019/904: EU Directive to prevent and reduce the impact on the environment of certain plastic products and to promote a transition to a circular economy.
  • Bio-Assimilation by Living Organisms: Evaluation of bio-assimilation by Rhodococcus via titration of CO2 evolution and increase of colony size resulting from exclusive source of carbon from degraded polyolefin.
  • ASTM D5511 Compliant: Standard test method for determining anaerobic diodegradation of plastic materials under high-solids anaerobic-digestion conditions.
  • ASTM 6954 Tier 1: Standard guide for exposing and testing plastics that degrade in the environment by a combination of oxidation and biodegradation.
  • EU 10/2011 via BS EN 1186: Migration test to demonstrate direct food contact safety.
  • FDA Direct Food Contact Approval
  • California Prop 65: California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act which places restrictions on “known carcinogens and reproductive toxicants.”
What types of plastic does ECLIPSE™ work with?

ECLIPSE™ technology can be added to polyolefins. The vast majority of ECLIPSE™ enabled products have been made with polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE), as well as some ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH) use cases.

What is a masterbatch?

A masterbatch is what is used to infuse products with ECLIPSE™ during the production process. The ECLIPSE™ masterbatch is a combination of proprietary catalysts (enables the bio-assimilation process), stabilizers (enables the functional life span), and a carrier resin (matches the characteristics of the resin of the plastic product).

What is oxo-biodegradation?

Oxo-(bio)degradation is the breakdown of plastic materials, that include additives, through oxidation which results in micro-fragments or chemical decomposition. Oxo-(bio)degradable products have been in the market for many years, though few have any definitive independent testing that can survive informed peer review.

Is ECLIPSE™ an oxo-biodegradable additive?

ECLIPSE™ is not an oxo-biodegradable additive. Our technology is a new and unique invention that enables materials achieve complete bio-assimilation, the final and conclusive stage of biodegradation. It is a scientifically-proven process that causes the complete molecular transformation of plastic.

Does ECLIPSE™ enabled material generate methane in the landfill?

Any biodegradable material (such as a leaf, paper or a banana peel) that ends up in the anaerobic zone in a landfill will create methane. Just like all biodegradable material, ECLIPSE™ enabled material will generate methane if it finds itself in a landfill’s anaerobic zone, however, the process will result in zero microplastics. First and foremost, all ECLIPSE ™ enabled products should be recycled!

Is ECLIPSE™ compliant with the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive?

Yes, ECLIPSE™ technology is compliant with the EU’s Directive 2019/904, also known as the Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUPD). The Directive applies to products made from oxo-degradable plastic, single-use plastic products listed in its Annex, and fishing gear containing plastic.

SPTek ECLIPSE™ is not an oxo-(bio)degradable additive. ECLIPSE™ is a new and unique technology that enables complete bio-assimilation: the final and conclusive stage of biodegradation where microorganisms can convert the material into CO2, water, and biomass.

Does ECLIPSE™ contain any toxic ingredients?

ECLIPSE™ is organic and is comprised of non-toxic raw materials which are independently approved for direct contact with food.

Where will SPTek ECLIPSE™ products bio-assimilate?

ECLIPSE™ enabled material will bio-assimilate in marine, terrestrial, and landfill environments. However, the inclusion of ECLIPSE™ is not designed to promote the improper disposal of plastic products. ECLIPSE™ enabled products should always be recycled whenever possible.

Are ECLIPSE™ products compostable?

Will they compost, yes? ECLIPSE™ enabled material will decompose in a composting environment. However, ECLIPSE™ enabled materials are not ASTM D6400 compliant, due to the nature of the bio-assimilation process. With ECLIPSE, the vast majority of carbon in bio-assimilated material is sequestered as biomass whereas ASTM D6400 requires the majority of carbon within the material to be turned into CO2.

Is ECLIPSE™ FDA approved?

Yes. The active ingredients in ECLIPSE™ are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) and are FDA approved.

Is ECLIPSE™ compliant with California Prop 65?

All SPTek ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation components are in compliance with respect to California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65) which places restrictions on “known carcinogens and reproductive toxicants.” No California Proposition 65 listed chemicals are present in SPTek ECLIPSE™.

ECLIPSE™ Stretch Film

What is the purpose of SPTek ECLIPSE™?

ECLIPSE™ is our flagship technology that mitigates the environmental impact of plastic waste, without impacting recyclability. ECLIPSE™ acts as a crucial safety net in case plastic products evade the recycling system, ensuring they do not persist in the environment for generations. This technology is a critical part of the solution to global plastic waste.

Should I throw out an ECLIPSE™ enabled product?

First and foremost, all ECLIPSE™ enabled products are designed to be recycled. ECLIPSE™ technology is a critical safety net should products evade the recycling system, not an excuse to incorrectly dispose of plastic.

What is bio-assimilation?

Bio-assimilation is the final and conclusive stage of biodegradation where microorganisms can convert the material into CO2, water, and biomass.

How does ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation work?

ECLIPSE bio-assimilation technology causes the complete molecular transformation of plastic. In other words, it breaks the carbon-to-carbon bonds within the polymer molecules, allowing microorganisms to feed on the available carbon. Once this process is initiated, it becomes a runaway freight train that can't be stopped, resulting in zero microplastics.

Here’s a step-by-step explanation of what happens during the bio-assimilation process.

  • At the end of an ECLIPSE™ enabled product’s functional life, the molecular structure of the polymer within the material has a molecular mass of approximately 200,000 Daltons.
  • ‍Stage 1 (200,000 Da): The free radical process begins and carbon-to-carbon bonds within the material begin to break. The molecular mass of the material rapidly reduces as the long-chain molecular structure transforms into shorter and shorter chains.
  • Stage 2 (40,000 Da): As the molecular transformation continues, these shorter chain molecular structures change from being hydrophobic (repelling water) to being hydrophilic (attracting water), surrounding them with microorganism-rich water (known as a bio-film).
  • Stage 3 (5,000 Da): As the free radical process continues to transform the molecular structure and expose more and more carbon, the surrounding microorganisms begin to utilize this carbon as nutrients.
  • Stage 4 (0 Da): As the microorganisms consume all of the available carbon, the molecular mass of the original polymer continues to reduce until there is nothing left but water, C0₂ and biomass.
At the end of the bio-assimilation process, what is left over?

CO2, water and biomass. No microplastics are left behind.

Can you recycle ECLIPSE™ enabled products?

Yes! First and foremost, ECLIPSE™ enabled products are designed to be recycled. The addition of ECLIPSE™ technology does not negatively impact the recyclability of the products or the recycle stream, provided the plastic has been collected and recycled before the bio-assimilation process has begun. If the material still has the mechanical characteristics of its original product, it can be recycled. The addition of ECLIPSE technology acts as a safety net in the event that the item evades the recycling system. It is not meant to encourage disposal in landfill.

Does SPTek ECLIPSE™ affect the traditional properties of stretch film?

ECLIPSE™ Stretch Film has gone through rigorous efficacy and performance testing which determined that it performs exactly like original products. The addition of SPTek ECLIPSE™ technology does not alter the benefits of conventional stretch film.

How do we know that the bio-assimilation claims are true?

We have conclusively proven our ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation technology through rigorous independent third-party testing and a world’s first C-13 bio-assimilation study conducted at LMPE, a leading Ecosustainable Polymeric Material Laboratory located in Italy. ECLIPSE™ technology is also compliant with recognized ASTM standards.

Is SPTek ECLIPSE™ Stretch Film more expensive than conventional stretch film?

There is a low inclusion rate of ECLIPSE™ at only 1%, which adds a minimal cost to the overall price. To determine the optimal amount of film for each customer’s unique need, the Rite-Gauging Assessment is used. This assessment ensures customers aren’t paying extra for any material they will not use.

Is ECLIPSE™ Stretch Film available in hand and machine formats?

ECLIPSE Stretch Film is available in both hand and machine formats in a number of different gauges. Learn more about SPTek ECLIPSE Stretch Film here.

How long does it take for ECLIPSE Stretch film to bio-assimilate?

Following its guaranteed functional life span of 2-years, if ECLIPSE™ Stretch Film evades the recycling system, it will bio-assimilate in 6-24 months depending on environmental conditions.

Where will SPTek ECLIPSE™ products bio-assimilate?

ECLIPSE™ enabled material will bio-assimilate in marine, terrestrial, and landfill environments. However, the inclusion of ECLIPSE™ is not designed to promote the improper disposal of plastic products. ECLIPSE™ enabled products should always be recycled whenever possible.

Are ECLIPSE™ products compostable?

Will they compost, yes? ECLIPSE™ enabled material will decompose in a composting environment. However, ECLIPSE™ enabled materials are not ASTM D6400 compliant, due to the nature of the bio-assimilation process. With ECLIPSE, the vast majority of carbon in bio-assimilated material is sequestered as biomass whereas ASTM D6400 requires the majority of carbon within the material to be turned into CO2.

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