Improve PLA biodegradation in soil and under home-composting conditions

PLA is one of the few polymers that is both biobased and biodegradable. However, a disadvantage is that PLA is only biodegradable under industrial composting and thermophilic anaerobic digestion conditions. As a consequence, PLA is often not selected as a sustainable alternative for fossil-based polymers in applications that would intrinsically benefit from degradation in soil or under home-composting conditions. This project investigates which are the most suitable approaches to enhance the biodegradation of PLA in soil and under home-composting conditions.

Material modification

This project will study multiple routes of material modification that are expected to enhance the level of biodegradation in PLA. Three strategies are pursued to initiate the degradation of PLA in soil and under home-composting conditions being
i) enzymatic catalysis,
ii) blends with other biodegradable polymers and
iii) the use of prodegradants.

Based on a theoretical and experimental assessment the most promising routes will be coupled to specific applications in the area of agriculture and food packaging.