Biodegradable Plastics and Recycling

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360). This special issue belongs to the section "Polymer Processing and Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2021) | Viewed by 6998

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Technological Institute of Materials (ITM), Universitat Politècnica de València, Plaza Ferrandiz y Carbonell s/n, Alcoy, Alicante, Spain
Interests: biodegradable polymers; recycling; natural additives; biocomposites; polymer compatibilization; polymer rheology;surface modification fillers; thermal and mechanical properties
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Guest Editor
Technological Institute of Materials (ITM), Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), Plaza Ferrándiz y Carbonell 1, 03801 Alcoy, Spain
Interests: edible and biodegradable films; plasticization; films for active food packaging; valorization of agroindustrial and forestal wastes; cellulose-based biocomposites
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Plastics are clearly one of the most widely used materials in industry with a broad applicability that covers practically all industrial fields. In recent years, there has been an exponential increase in the consumption of plastics in sectors such as packaging, medical, textiles, agriculture, automotive, 3D printing, and others. The great range of existing plastics with different properties makes them extremely versatile materials, which, combined with their easy processability, high chemical resistance, and high durability in environmental conditions, make plastics excellent candidates to replace other materials such as metals, wood, ceramics, etc. in many applications. Nevertheless, plastics also have drawbacks, such as the resistance to degradation in the environment, or the lack of recycling capacity of governments forcing them to incinerate a large part of waste, increasing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, a large part of this waste is dumped in controlled landfills or, in the worst scenario, in emerging countries where consumption is very high, dumping is uncontrolled and release of toxic additives, etc. contaminates the environment at a rhythm that has accelerated in recent years and make the use of plastics as a feedstock unsustainable. As is widely known by the scientific community, there are several fields of research that are working to minimize the negative effects of the high consumption of plastics worldwide. The synthesis of new biodegradable plastics, the substitution of nonrecyclable plastics with others that are recyclable, and a greater effort to minimize consumption are the strategies that are being carried out to achieve a more sustainable industry that contributes to a sustainable world.

Conscious of the importance of providing solutions to minimize these problems, this Special Issue of Polymers invites contributions addressing several aspects related to the synthesis of new biodegradable polymers (especially polysaccharide derivatives), the formulation of biodegradable polymer blends, and the study of their thermal and mechanical properties, as well as their recyclability or the biodegradation mechanisms in the environment (including marine environment) or under composting conditions to replace conventional plastics. We hope that these contributions address a wide variety of topics, including the synthesis of more environmentally friendly polymers, new polymers with natural and nontoxic biodegradable additives, and the influence on the thermal, mechanical, and biodegradation properties of recycled polymers, copolymers, and biodegradable composites. In addition, works that carry out rheological studies linked to the number of reprocessings or that measure the barrier properties of materials designed for packaging applications are welcome.

Dr. José Miguel Ferri
Dr. Daniel García-García
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Biodegradable polymers
  • Recycled polymers
  • Biopolymers
  • Biocomposites
  • Environmentally friendly materials
  • Poli(lactic acid)
  • Polysaccharides
  • Compostable polymers
  • Thermoplastic starch

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Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

11 pages, 1918 KiB  
Article
Biodegradable Nanocomposite Microcapsules for Controlled Release of Urea
by Jessica de Carvalho Arjona, Maria das Graças Silva-Valenzuela, Shu-Hui Wang and Francisco Rolando Valenzuela-Diaz
Polymers 2021, 13(5), 722; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13050722 - 26 Feb 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 2524
Abstract
Urea is the most used fertilizer around the world as the main source of nitrogen to soil and plants. However, the administration of nitrogen dosage is critical, as its excess can be harmful to the environment. Therefore, the encapsulation of urea to achieve [...] Read more.
Urea is the most used fertilizer around the world as the main source of nitrogen to soil and plants. However, the administration of nitrogen dosage is critical, as its excess can be harmful to the environment. Therefore, the encapsulation of urea to achieve control on its release rates has been considered in several areas. In this work, encapsulation of urea by biodegradable polymer poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) and its nanocomposites, namely PHB/MMT and PHB/OMMT, producing microcapsules by emulsion method is carried out. MMT and OMMT refer to Brazilian clays in a natural state and organophilized, respectively. In addition, the microcapsules are thus prepared to have their physicochemical characteristics investigated, then tested for biodegradation. Increment of microcapsules’ crystallinity due to the increased amount of poly(vinylacetate) (PVA), as emulsifier agent in the continuous phase, was confirmed by X-ray diffractometry (XRD) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The presence of urea within microcapsules was verified by XRD, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The soil biodegradation assessments showed that PHB/OMMT microcapsules present higher degradation rates in sandy soils. The overall results suggest that the composites performed better than neat PHB and are very promising; moreover, PHB/OMMT microcapsules proved to be the best candidate for the controlled-release of urea in soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodegradable Plastics and Recycling)
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15 pages, 1961 KiB  
Article
Biodegradation of Poly(Lactic Acid) Biocomposites under Controlled Composting Conditions and Freshwater Biotope
by Pavel Brdlík, Martin Borůvka, Luboš Běhálek and Petr Lenfeld
Polymers 2021, 13(4), 594; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13040594 - 16 Feb 2021
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 3513
Abstract
The influence of additives such as natural-based plasticiser acetyl tributyl citrate (ATBC), CaCO3 and lignin-coated cellulose nanocrystals (L-CNC) on the biodegradation of polylactic acid (PLA) biocomposites was studied by monitoring microbial metabolic activity through respirometry. Ternary biocomposites and control samples were processed [...] Read more.
The influence of additives such as natural-based plasticiser acetyl tributyl citrate (ATBC), CaCO3 and lignin-coated cellulose nanocrystals (L-CNC) on the biodegradation of polylactic acid (PLA) biocomposites was studied by monitoring microbial metabolic activity through respirometry. Ternary biocomposites and control samples were processed by a twin-screw extruder equipped with a flat film die. Commonly available compost was used for the determination of the ultimate aerobic biodegradability of PLA biocomposites under controlled composting conditions (ISO 14855-1). In addition, the hydro-degradability of prepared films in a freshwater biotope was analysed. To determine the efficiency of hydro-degradation, qualitative analyses (SEM, DSC, TGA and FTIR) were conducted. The results showed obvious differences in the degradation rate of PLA biocomposites. The application of ATBC at 10 wt.% loading increased the biodegradation rate of PLA. The addition of 10 wt.% of CaCO3 into the plasticised PLA matrix ensured an even higher degradation rate at aerobic thermophilic composting conditions. In such samples (PLA/ATBC/CaCO3), 94% biodegradation in 60 days was observed. In contrast, neat PLA exposed to the same conditions achieved only 16% biodegradation. Slightly inhibited microorganism activity was also observed for ternary PLA biocomposites containing L-CNC (1 wt.% loading). The results of qualitative analyses of degradation in a freshwater biotope confirmed increased biodegradation potential of ternary biocomposites containing both CaCO3 and ATBC. Significant differences in the chemical and structural compositions of PLA biocomposites were found in the evaluated period of three months. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodegradable Plastics and Recycling)
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