Home compostable/Soil degradable PLA
This project investigates the most suitable approaches to enhance the biodegradation of PLA in soil and under home-composting conditions.
Motivation and Challenge
During the past decades Polylactic acid (PLA) has become one of the most mature biobased and biodegradable polymers which is reflected by its increasing production volume. This increase is attributed to a combination of the facile and relatively cheap production process and the interesting physical properties of PLA. Furthermore, it is biodegradable under industrial composting and thermophilic anaerobic conditions. Its application could be greatly expanded if PLA could be made intrinsically degradable in soil or under home-composting conditions.
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 theoretical and experimental assessments the most promising routes will be coupled to specific applications in the area of agriculture and food packaging, such as teabags and coffee pads, plant pots, and foamed products.