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Technology Development Project for Social Implementation of Marine Biodegradable Plastics

Project overview

Project period: FY2020 to FY2024, budget: 350 million yen (FY2023)

While plastic has been widely used as a material that brings convenience to our daily lives, its increased demand has led to an increase in energy consumption and CO2 emissions during raw material procurement, manufacturing, processing, and waste disposal processes, as well as marine pollution by plastic waste, which has become a social problem.
This project will promote the market introduction of marine biodegradable plastics to solve the marine plastic litter problem. In order to accelerate the expansion of the use of marine biodegradable plastics through further product application expansion, the development of evaluation methods supported by marine biodegradation mechanisms (R&D Item [1]) and the development of new technology and material for marine biodegradable plastics (R&D Item [2]) will be conducted. These activities will contribute to the realization of zero new marine plastic litter.

  • Conceptual diagram of this project
    Conceptual diagram illustration of this project

Research and Development

Establishment of Evaluation Method related to Marine Biodegradability

Biodegradability assessments of existing and new marine biodegradable plastics will be conducted in each oceanic region, basic data on biodegradability in different ocean regions will be collected, and analysis of the degradation mechanisms of marine biodegradable plastics and evaluation methods for marine biodegradability will be conducted. NEDO is also investigating accelerated biodegradation assessment methods and correlations between laboratory and field test results by considering new methods to evaluate safety, including through intermediates formed during biodegradation and by analyzing the relationship between the degree of biodegradation and various factors. Marine safety evaluation tests for resins and their decomposition products have also been conducted. Based on these studies, NEDO plans to establish an evaluation method supported by the marine biodegradability mechanism in 2024 that can be commonly used in practical applications and to link this to ISO international standardization.

Development of New Stuff and New Material related to Marine Biodegradable Plastics

For marine biodegradable plastics, NEDO is not only developing resins with new chemical structures and new biomanufacturing processes but also composites of existing resins to enhance their properties and functionality. NEDO is developing resin additives that improve marine biodegradability and particle-shaped marine biodegradable materials as an alternative to plastic beads added to personal care products and paints. Furthermore, NEDO has begun developing resin material consisting of polysaccharide long-chain short-chain ester derivatives aimed at fishing gear products and resin material consisting of ester-amide derivatives that aim to surpass existing commodity plastics in terms of gas barrier properties and impact strength.

Photo of Polymer particulate material with ionic bonding
Polymer particulate material with ionic bonding

Project Manager

Photograph of Project Manager

In Japan, the Act on Promotion of Resource Circulation for Plastics was recently enacted and is in effect from April, 2022. It is expected that the momentum for the spread of environmentally friendly plastics will further increase in the future. In particular, NEDO would be happy if NEDO could make effective use of the technological development results for marine biodegradable plastics that our department is working on as innovations, such as the development and conversion of alternative materials to one-way plastics.

Basic information

Technical field Materials and components
Project code P20008
Department in charge
  • Materials Technology and Nanotechnology Department (TEL: +81-44-520-5220)

Last Updated : January 10, 2024