Biodegradability of injection molded bioplastic pots containing polylactic acid and poultry feather fiber

H K Ahn, M S Huda, M C Smith, W Mulbry, W F Schmidt, J B Reeves
Bioresource Technology 2011, 102 (7): 4930-3
The biodegradability of three types of bioplastic pots was evaluated by measuring carbon dioxide produced from lab-scale compost reactors containing mixtures of pot fragments and compost inoculum held at 58 °C for 60 days. Biodegradability of pot type A (composed of 100% polylactic acid (PLA)) was very low (13 ± 3%) compared to literature values for other PLA materials. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) results suggest that the PLA undergoes chemical structural changes during polymer extrusion and injection molding. These changes may be the basis of the low biodegradability value. Biodegradability of pot types B (containing 5% poultry feather, 80% PLA, 15% starch), and C (containing 50% poultry feather, 25% urea, 25% glycerol), were 53 ± 2% and 39 ± 3%, respectively. More than 85% of the total biodegradation of these bioplastics occurred within 38 days. NIRS results revealed that poultry feather was not degraded during composting.

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