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Degradation Accelerator for Biodegradable Plastics
With growing interest in achieving sustainability and reducing the use of fossil-based plastics, brand owners have been switching their packaging materials to more sustainable options such as biodegradable and/or compostable packaging to protect the environment. Poly-lactic acid (PLA) and polybutylene succinate (PBS) are biodegradable aliphatic polyesters that are widely used in packaging industry. However, the breakdown of these biodegradable plastics is slow and unpredictable.
The technology offers a solution to increase the rate of biodegradation through a copolymer, poly-aspartic acid/lactic acid (PALS). An amphiphilic copolymer obtained from aspartic acid and lactic acid, PALS is miscible with biodegradable polyesters and produces homogeneous blend films without impairing their inherent mechanical properties. In addition, the degradability of PALS can be tuned by changing aspartic acid/lactic acid ratio in the copolymer structure.
The company is interested to seek collaborations in co-developing PALS for use in their biodegradable plastics formulations in various applications.
Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages
The technology is a copolymer comprising of aspartic acid and lactic acid to serve as a degradation accelerator when incorporated with biodegradable polyesters such as PLA and PBS.
Some features of the technology include :
- Miscible with biodegradable polyesters
- Does not affect transparency of final product
- Able to produce homogenous blend films without impairing mechanical properties
- Small amount required (about 10%)
- Degradable under industrial composting condition (ISO 14855-1) and disintegration test under home composting conditions (AS 5810_ISO20200).
- Both industrial and home composting tests were carried out for 180 days.
- Industrial composting test showed that PLA-PALS compounds accelerated degradability rate at the beginning stage. At 45 days, PALS-PLA compounds degraded by approximately 28-30% while pure PLA degraded by 8%. (The aerobic biodegradability of (1) PLA, (2) PLA-PALS compound 1, (3) PLA-PALS compound 2 was 8.29%, 27.62%, and 30.36% respectively)
- Under home composting conditions, PALS-PLA compounds showed faster degradability than PLA - cracks observed from 7-15 days for PALS-PLA compounds, compared to no cracks observed for PLA up to 120 days.
- No aquatic/marine environment degradation test conducted yet
This technology is applicable to industries requiring additives to accelerate the degradation of biodegradable plastics.
Targeted applications include (but are not limited to) :
- Compostable packaging for fast-moving consumer goods
- Films & materials for the agricultural industry such as mulch film
- Single-use disposable plastics
- Provides an eco-friendly solution to reduce plastic waste accumulation by ensuring proper breakdown of the plastic pieces
- Increases biodegradation of plastics
- Tunability – control over the degradation rate of bioplastics