Handbook of Biodegradable Polymers

Edited by C. Bastioli 
Rapra Technology  2005  

Softback  533 pp  ISBN 9781859573891      £110.00
Biodegradable polymers are niche market materials finding focused applications, including agricultural applications such as mulch films, flowerpots and controlled-release fertilisers and packaging items such as carrier bags and food wrapping and containers.

They have the potential to provide a solution to a range of environmental concerns: decreasing availability of landfill space, declining petrochemical sources, and also offer an alternative option to recycling.

Rapra's Handbook of Biodegradable Polymers is a complete guide to the subject of biodegradable polymers and is ideal for those new to the subject or those wanting to supplement their existing knowledge.

The book covers the mechanisms of degradation in various environments, by both biological and non-biological means, and the methods for measuring biodegradation. The degree and rate of biodegradation is dependent on the chemical composition of the polymer and its working environment, and so there is no single optimal method for determining biodegradation. This handbook provides discussion of international and national standards and certification procedures developed to ensure accurate communication of a material's biodegradability between producers, authorities and consumers.

The book goes on to consider the characteristics, processability and application areas for biodegradable polymers, with key polymer family groups discussed.


  • 1 Biodegradability of Polymers - Mechanisms and Evaluation Methods 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Background 1.3 Defining Biodegradability 1.4 Mechanisms of Polymer Degradation 1.4.1 Non-biological Degradation of Polymers 1.4.2 Biological Degradation of Polymers 1.5 Measuring Biodegradation of Polymers 1.5.1 Enzyme Assays 1.5.2 Plate Tests 1.5.3 Respiration Tests 1.5.4 Gas (CO2 or CH4) Evolution Tests 1.5.5 Radioactively Labelled Polymers 1.5.6 Laboratory-scale Simulated Accelerating Environments 1.5.7 Natural Environments - Field Trials 1.6 Factors Affecting Biodegradability 1.7 Conclusions
  • 2 Biodegradation Behaviour of Polymers in Liquid Environments 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Degradation in Real Liquid Environments 2.2.1 Degradation in Sweet Water and Marine Environment 2.3 Degradation in Laboratory Tests Simulating Real Aquatic Environments 2.3.1 Aerobic Liquid Environments 2.3.2 Anaerobic Liquid Environments 2.4 Degradation in Laboratory Tests with Optimised and Defined Liquid Media 2.5 Standard Tests for Biodegradable Polymers Using Liquid Media 2.6 Summary
  • 3 Biodegradation Behaviour of Polymers in the Soil 3.1 I Introduction 3.1.1 Biodegradable Polymers and the Environment 3.1.2 Biodegradable Polymers and Soil 3.2 How Polymers Reach Soil 3.2.1 Intentional Delivery 3.2.2 Unintentional Delivery: Littering 3.3 The Soil Environment 3.3.1 Surface Factors 3.3.2 Underground Factors 3.4 Degradability of Polymers in Soil 3.4.1 The Standardisation Approach 3.4.2 T Test Methods and Criteria 3.5 Effects of Biodegradable Polymers on Soil Living Organisms 3.5.1 Performing the Assessment: Transient and Permanent Effects 3.5.2 Test Material Concentration 3.5.3 Preparation of the Soil Sample Ready for Ecotoxicity Testing 3.5.4 Test Methods 3.6 Biodegradability of Materials in Soil: A Survey of the Literature
  • 4 Ecotoxicological Aspects in the Biodegradation Process of Polymers 4.1 The Need of Ecotoxicity Analysis for Biodegradable Materials 4.1.1 Standards and Regulations for Testing of Biodegradable Polymers 4.1.2 Detection of the Influences on an Ecosystem Caused by the Biodegradation of Polymers 4.1.3 Potential Influences of Polymers After Composting 4.1.4 Potential Influences of Polymers During and After Biodegradation in Soil and Sediment 4.2 A Short Introduction to Ecotoxicology 4.2.1 Theory of Dose-Response Relationships 4.2.2 Test Design in Ecotoxicology 4.2.3 Toxicity Tests and Bioassays 4.2.4 Ecotoxicity Profile Analysis 4.3 Recommendations and Standard Procedures for Biotests 4.3.1 Bioassays with Higher Plants 4.3.2 Bioassays with Earthworms (Eisenia foetida) 4.3 Preparation of Elutriates for Aquatic Ecotoxicity Tests 4.3.4 Bioassays with Algae 4.3.5 Bioassays with Luminescent Bacteria 4.3.6 Bioassays with Daphnia 4.3.7 Evaluation of Bioassay Results Obtained from Samples of Complex Composition 4.3.8 Testing of Sediments 4.4 Special Prerequisites to be Considered when Applying Bioassays for Biodegradable Polymers 4.4.1 Nutrients in the Sample 4.4.2 Biodegradation Intermediates 4.4.3 Diversity of the Microorganism Population 4.4.4 Humic Substances 4.4.5 Evaluation of Test Results and Limits of Bioassays 4.5 Research Results for Ecotoxicity Testing of Biodegradable Polymers 4.5.1 The Relationship Between Chemical Structure, Biodegradation Pathways and Formation of Potentially Ecotoxic Metabolites 4.5.2 Ecotoxicity of the Polymers 4.5.3 Ecotoxic Effects Appearing After Degradation in Compost or After Anaerobic Digestion 4.5.4 Ecotoxic Effects Appearing During Degradation in Soil 4.6 Conclusion 4.6.1 Consequences for Test Schemes for Investigations on Biodegradable Polymers 4.6.2 Conclusion
  • 5 International and National Norms on Biodegradability and Certification Procedures 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Organisations for Standardisation 5.3 Norms 5.3.1 Aquatic, Aerobic Biodegradation Tests 5.3.2 Compost Biodegradation Tests 5.3.3 Compostability Norms 5.3.4 Compost Disintegration Tests 5.3.5 Soil Biodegradation Tests 5.3.6 Aquatic, Anaerobic Biodegradation Tests 5.3.7 High-Solids, Anaerobic Biodegradation Tests 5.3.8 Marine Biodegradation Tests 5.3.9 Other Biodegradation Tests 5.4 Certification 5.4.1 Introduction 5.4.2 Different Certification Systems
  • 6 General Characteristics, Processability, Industrial Applications and Market Evolution of Biodegradable Polymers 6.1 General Characteristics 6.1.1 Polymer Biodegradation Mechanisms 6.1.2 Polymer Molecular Size, Structure and Chemical Composition 6.1.3 Biodegradable Polymer Classes 6.1.4 Naturally Biodegradable Polymers 6.1.5 Synthetic Biodegradable Polymers 6.1.6 Modified Naturally Biodegradable Polymers 6.2 Processability 6.2.1 Extrusion 6.2.2 Film Blowing and Casting 6.2.3 Moulding 6.2.4 Fibre Spinning 6.3 Industrial Applications 6.3.1 Loose-Fill Packaging 6.3.2 Compost Bags 6.3.3 Other Applications 6.4 Market Evolution
  • 7 Polyhydroxyalkanoates 7.1 Introduction 7.2 The Various Types of PHA 7.2.1 Poly[R-3-hydroxybutyrate] (P[3HB]) 7.2.2 Poly[3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate] (P[3HB-co-3HV]) 7.2.3 Poly[3-hydroxybutyrate-co-4-hydroxybutyrate] (P[3HB-co-4HB]) 7.2.4 Other PHA Copolymers with Interesting Physical Properties 7.2.5 Uncommon PHA Constituents 7.3 Mechanisms of PHA Biosynthesis 7.3.1 Conditions that Promote the Biosynthesis and Accumulation of PHA in Microorganisms 7.3.2 Carbon Sources for the Production of PHA 7.3.3 Biochemical Pathways Involved in the Metabolism of PHA 7.3.4 The Key Enzyme of PHA Biosynthesis, PHA Synthase 7.4 Genetically Modified Systems and Other Methods for the Production of PHA 7.4.1 Recombinant Escherichia coli 7.4.2 Transgenic Plants 7.4.3 In vitro Production of PHA 7.5 Biodegradation of PHA 7.6 Applications of PHA 7.7 Conclusions and Outlook
  • 8 Starch-Based Technology 8.1 Introduction 8.2 Starch Polymer 8.3 Starch-filled Plastics 8.4 Thermoplastic Starch 8.5 Starch-Based Materials on the Market 8.6 Conclusions
  • 9 Poly(Lactic Acid) and Copolyesters 9.1 Introduction 9.2 Synthesis 9.2.1 Homopolymers 9.2.2 Copolymers 9.2.3 Functionalised Polymers 9.3 Structure, Properties, Degradation, and Applications 9.3.1 Physical Properties 9.3.2 Chemical Properties 9.3.3 Applications 9.4 Conclusions
  • 10 Aliphatic-Aromatic Polyesters 10.1 Introduction 10.2 Development of Biodegradable Aliphatic-Aromatic Copolyesters 10.3 Degradability and Degradation Mechanism 10.3.1 General Mechanism/Definition 10.3.2 Degradation of Pure Aromatic Polyesters 10.3.3 Degradation of Aliphatic-Aromatic Copolyesters 10.4 Commercial Products and Characteristic Material Data 10.4.1 Ecoflex 10.4.2 Eastar Bio 10.4.3 Biomax 10.4.4 EnPol 10.4.5 Characteristic Material Data
  • 11 Material Formed from Proteins 11.1 Introduction 11.2 Structure of Material Proteins 11.3 Protein-Based Materials 11.4 Formation of Protein-Based Materials 11.4.1 €Solvent Process€ 11.4.2 €Thermoplastic Process€ 11.5 Properties of Protein-Based Materials 11.6 Applications
  • 12 Enzyme Catalysis in the Synthesis of Biodegradable Polymers 12.1 Introduction 12.2 Polyester Synthesis 12.2.1 Polycondensation of Hydroxyacids and Esters 12.2.2 Polymerisation of Dicarboxylic Acids or Their Activated Derivatives with Glycols 12.2.3 Ring Opening Polymerisation of Carbonates and Other Cyclic Monomers 12.2.4 Ring Opening Polymerisation and Copolymerisation of Lactones 12.3 Oxidative Polymerisation of Phenol and Derivatives of Phenol 12.4 Enzymatic Polymerisation of Polysaccharides 12.5 Conclusions
  • 13 Environmental Life Cycle Comparisons of Biodegradable Plastics 13.1 Introduction 13.2 Methodology of LCA 13.3 Presentation of Comparative Data 13.3.1 Starch Polymers 13.3.2 Polyhydroxyalkanoates 13.3.3 Polylactides (PLA) 13.3.4 Other Biodegradable Polymers 13.4 Summarising Comparison 13.5 Discussion 13.6 Conclusions Appendix 13.1 Overview of environmental life cycle comparisons or biodegradable polymers included in this review Appendix 13.2 Checklist for the preparation of an LCA for biodegradable plastics Appendix 13.3 List of abbreviations
  • 14 Biodegradable Polymers and the Optimisation of Models for Source Separation and Composting of Municipal Solid Waste 14.1 Introduction 14.1.1 The Development of Composting and Schemes for Source Separation of Biowaste in Europe: A Matter of Quality 14.2 The Driving Forces for Composting in the EU 14.2.1 The Directive on the Landfill of Waste 14.2.2 The Proposed Directive on Biological Treatment of Biodegradable Waste 14.3 Source Separation of Organic Waste in Mediterranean Countries: An Overview 14.5 €Biowaste€, €VGF€ and €Food Waste€: Relevance of a Definition on Performances of the Waste Management System 14.6 The Importance of Biobags 14.6.1 Features of €Biobags€: The Importance of Biodegradability and its Cost-Efficiency 14.7 Cost Assessment of Optimised Schemes 14.7.1 Tools to Optimise the Schemes and their Suitability in Different Situations 14.8 Conclusions

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