Vebeek, C.J.R., Hicks, T. & Langdon, A. (2011). Biodegradation of bloodmeal-based thermoplastics in green-waste composting. Journal of Polymers and the Environment, published online 19 October 2011.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5977
Polymers that are compostable and manufactured from renewable resources have gained significant importance in recent years. The objective of this work was to assess the biodegradability of bloodmeal-based thermoplastics in a commercial green-waste composting situation. Materials plasticised with tri-ethylene–glycol lost about 45% of their original mass after 12 weeks composting while unplasticised samples lost 35%. Degradation appeared to have been in two phases; an initial loss of soluble, low molecular compounds in the mesophilic phase followed by degradation of high molecular compounds as the temperature exceeded about 40 °C in the thermophilic phase. It was found that as degradation proceeded materials became more soluble. In addition, plasticised and unplasticized samples contained about 60 wt% moisture after 4 weeks of composting conditioning at 50% relative humidity resulted in approximately 8–10 wt% moisture, unaffected by the extent of degradation. FTIR revealed that proteins underwent hydrolytic cleavage resulting in the formation of primary amines. A significant reduction in combustion temperature was observed, indicative of a reduction in covalent bonding, likely due to shorter chains lengths or less cross-linking.