Sleep Sweet

What is Pre-Degraded Plastic?

Published: 03/31/2023

We have a little secret. Several months ago, we started making our 10-ounce bottles from an amazing new pre-degraded plastic that’s waaaaayyy more eco-friendly than regular plastic. Like mind-bogglingly better. And no one’s been able to tell the difference, which is extra amazing since eco-friendly solutions often feel like a down-grade in quality.

When Hello Bello’s old and new 10 oz bottles are sitting side-by-side, they look and feel identical. You can’t tell the difference, but Mother Nature can. It’s the same price. It’s the same experience. So without doing anything at all, you’re doing Mother Nature a huge favor.

Hello Bello is the first baby brand to use it (and only the second to use it commercially!). We’re early adopters because we’re always looking for ways to reduce our eco-impact.

What the heck is pre-degraded plastic? It’s a plastic technology that saves Mother Nature a whole heckuva lotta time. You see, Mother Nature breaks down (degrades) plastic, but it can take 1,500 years with traditional plastics. Pre-degraded plastic kick-starts the degradation process and cuts the workload down for nature by 90%!

How can this possibly be??

It’s all about molecular weight, think density, i.e. the spaces between molecules. If we think of it in terms of food and eating, when you visually think of density, it’s like pound cake vs. angel food cake. Dense vs fluffy. And degrading plastic is like digesting food. Mother Nature has to “eat” plastic to break it down. But the difference between traditional plastic and pre-degraded plastic is a lot more than the difference between pound cake and angel food cake. You can chew either of those up in about the same amount of time. In the context of eating, traditional plastic is more like chewing gum and pre-degraded plastic is more like a taffy (e.g Starburst). Taffy dissolves (degrades) fairly quickly in your mouth (or about 2 hours in a bowl of water). Gum, on the other hand, can be chewed and chewed almost indefinitely (depending on what it’s made from, it could last years in a bowl of water).

While each of these confectionaries can be delightful to humans, Mother Nature shouldn’t have to put in the effort to “chew” (degrade) “gum” (plastic) for 1,500 years before it breaks down. Not only is it just a ridiculous amount of effort on her part (and she has soooooo much to do), there’s also absolutely no need for plastic to last that long. The timeframe of its usefulness is far shorter.

Back to the gum analogy, no one wants to chew it for years. It only tastes good for a little while and when the flavor is gone, the gum is undesirable and obsolete and people spit it out and throw it away. Similarly, with traditional plastic, it’s useful for a while, but then it starts to break down and doesn’t work like it’s supposed, so it’s obsolete…and takes 1,500 years to finally go away. (Picture poor Mother Earth chewing and chewing and chewing on that flavorless gum with no place to spit it out. Working so hard at such a torturous task thinking, “I can’t stop chewing or the whole world will be covered in gum!”)

A taffy, on the other hand, offers the pleasure of flavor and chewing and then it’s gone. Pre-degraded plastic is the same. It serves its purpose and politely goes away.

The moral of the story? Traditional plastic is incredibly over-engineered. Pre-degraded plastic is incredibly thoughtfully-engineered – and carefully broken down as it’s being manufactured, with the goal of breaking down as much of the plastic’s molecular signature (i.e. the over-engineering part), without losing the commercial characteristics (i.e. what we really need from it).

It creates products that look, feel, and function exactly like the plastic you’re used to, but there’s actually 50% less plastic (and an over 50% carbon footprint reduction). Plus, it’s 300% more recyclable than traditional plastic (which turns into useless mush after being recycled only four times). It’s plastic transformed – with a significantly reduced eco footprint.

With pre-degraded, it’s a win-win at the end of a product’s use. If it doesn’t get recycled, it’ll break down within a few years. If it does get recycled, it creates a higher quality recycled plastic. It's truly revolutionary!!

Welcome to the future of eco-friendly packaging! 

Help us get the word out!

We want other brands to join us on this journey! The company that developed this amazing plastic is called Timeplast and our personal point of contact is Tony Martinez – and he's incredible to work with. If you're a brand interested in exploring using this eco-friendly packaging, email [email protected]. Tell him we said hi!