NEW BEDFORD  Just one word: plastics! The synthetic polymers were on everyone's mind on Tuesday morning, as a host of officials celebrated the opening of UMass Dartmouth's $1.2 million biodegradability laboratory at the School for Marine Science and Technology in New Bedford.

Formed in a collaboration between the commonwealth and private partners, the state-of-the-art research and development lab will take a look at how plastics biodegrade in the environment.

It will also support the development of ocean-safe and biodegradable materials, according to a release from UMass Dartmouth following Tuesday's event.

WBSM-AM/AM 1420 logo
Get our free mobile app


Funded through a $740,000 Massachusetts Technology Collaborative grant and a $450,000 investment from New York-based material science firm PrimaLoft, the new lab is expected to advance research in materials, sustainability, and the blue economy.

It was designed to measure the biodegradation of products in environmental systems with plastic waste, including landfills, oceans, wastewater, soil and compost.

Key features of the lab were designed in collaboration with PrimaLoft scientists and engineers, according to the release.

Based in Albany, NY, PrimaLoft — whose CEO Mike Joyce graduated from UMass Dartmouth in 1985 — develops sustainable insulation and fabrics.

Other partners on the project include Radical Plastics of Beverly, Paramount Planet Product, UMass Boston, UMass Lowell, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Boston-based SeaAhead, and the U.S. Army Soldier Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center.

"The opening of the new biodegradability lab at UMass Dartmouth is another incredible example of Massachusetts leading the way towards a more sustainable future," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Mark Fuller said that the university "is committed to supporting the rapidly growing Blue Economy by conducting research in important areas such as increasing ocean sustainability, monitoring ecosystems, producing renewable energy, and developing new marine technologies."

"UMass Dartmouth is a perfect location for this new facility, to build on the university’s strong marine science and engineering focus, coupled with the South Coast’s strong heritage of textile innovation," noted Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Deputy Director Pat Larkin.

“Ultimately, this is a wonderful opportunity to bring together a business with a specific need, and a university with the ability to bring it to life," said PrimaLoft CEO Mike Joyce.

"This lab is positioned to be one of the premier biodegradation labs in the United States and our hope that this lab will be the nucleus of an expanding center for sustainable innovation and research in the SouthCoast region."

Wacky, Weird and Wondrous: Check Out the Sea Creatures Near the New Marine Monument

NOAA's Deep Connections 2019 expeditions saw scientists explore deep undersea features using remotely operated vehicles in and around the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. From the truly breathtaking to the positively petrifying, here are some of the incredible critters they found in the depths.

Take a Photo Tour of the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center

The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center is celebrating five years of providing education and information about the city's most vital industry. While these photos can give you an idea of what it's all about, the exhibits are interactive and hands-on, so check it out for yourself.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420