Uncharted Waters: Diving into Biodegradation Testing in Marine Environments

Mixing things up, one biodegradable straw at a time

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08/18/2022

Kris Alvarez

 

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Consumers, partners, and stakeholders alike have been upping the ante for organizations to extend their efforts into other focus areas to offer more value through their products/services. Sure, years of knowhow in any one space is always a confidence-ensuing sigh of relief. However, to their own detriment, companies that are apprehensive about venturing into other industries (or other subsections of their industry) may be leaving new business on the table and (in turn) stifling their capacity for growth.


Here at Keypoint Intelligence, the idea of subject matter versatility isn’t intimidating—it’s inspiring. In fact, we are leveraging our decades of experience in product testing for the digital imaging industry to assess something quite different. Our US lab has been examining and testing a variety of competitive biodegradable straws using a slew of equipment from saltwater fish tanks to time-lapse imaging and monitoring software to drop-in thermometers and bio pellets.

 

 

Saltwater tank setup for degradation testing; a full-frame camera and macro lens are positioned
directly in front of the tank for optimal image quality of the straw degradation over time.

  

Biodegradation: Why the Testing Holds Water

Biodegradation of materials is synonymous with sustainability, a topic which has become a pivotal talking point for many industries (including print). Vendors have long been prioritizing ways to cut their carbon footprints and reduce their participation in growing landfills from their supply chain down to their operations. What’s more, there’s been a lot of conversation surrounding additive manufacturing and how 3D printing coincides with sustainability in the grand scheme of print. Besides, it’s not exactly news that—among the many plastic instruments deemed as environmental no-no’s—straws are slowly being thwarted from ending up in our drinking glasses by local and state governments, as well as other governing bodies overseas.

So, it’s safe to say our usual subject matter shares a few similarities here. Nonetheless, this change of pace was no match; our ability to reallocate knowledge, insight, and other tools from our work in print to formulate sound procedures for testing something new made shifting gears seamless.

 

“We’ve definitely carried over a lot of the same practices from our usual office equipment testing to this particular test,” said Len Wolak, New Product Lab Specialist at Keypoint Intelligence. “Data logging, temperature and humidity control, using backup power units for electronics, incorporating video footage for visuals—all of this is gear that we’ve familiarized ourselves with tremendously, and it gives us the chance to implement that technology in ways that are specific to this kind of testing. It’s really exciting to see.”

 

 

Tank filter (left) and drop-in thermometer (right)

 

Not the Last Straw

It doesn’t stop at testing biodegradation in straws, though, as this sort of “repurposing of resources” is an introduction to other areas of product testing and analysis. By integrating the same test equipment from our tenure in the print industry, coupled with our experiential basis of competitive testing for the last 60 years, we’re able to provide even greater value to each of our clients, new and old.

 

Print and office products will always be how we got our start. And as the heart of it continues to beat, we’ll be here to help pump the blood. That said, biodegradation testing isn’t the last straw—and we’re sure to enter other territories in no time.

 

Francis Annamaria, Keypoint Intelligence Lab Technician,
refilling one of the tanks used in testing.

 

Have an industry you’d like to see us cover? Are there any other products outside of print that need expert, unbiased testing? Reach out to us here and let us know, or send your thoughts to info@keypointintelligence.com.