Degradation Behavior of Biodegradable Plastics in Thermophilic Landfill Soil and Wastewater Sludge Conditions
Keywords:biodegradable plastic, degradation, landfill; weight loss, PHBV
In this study, three common biodegradable plastics, namely, poly(hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV), poly(butylene succinate) (PBS) and poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT) were all buried in a mixture of landfill soil and wastewater sludge and incubated under thermophilic (61°C) oxygen-limited conditions. At the end of the 90-day test, the degradation ranking order was PHBV > PBS > PBAT. Only PHBV was completely degraded over the 60 days, while PBS and PBAT displayed 24.04% ± 3.37% and 18.26% ± 3.77% weight loss, respectively. The differences in the degradation and disintegration profiles among these materials were observed. The results showed that PHBV lost its thickness and degraded from the edges of the specimens. Both PBS and PBAT were reduced into small fragile fragments during the degradation process. SEM micrographs revealed that irregular roughness with many holes and cracks was characteristic of PHBV, while slightly smooth surfaces were found on PBS and PBAT. All the materials showed continuous decreases in the thermal stability and the percentage of carbon content in the molecular structures after the degradation test. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy revealed that the chemical structure of PHBV was changed during the biodegradation test, while both PBS and PBAT were unchanged under the same test conditions. However, the peak for carboxylate ions was found after the degradation of all the samples. Having a deep understanding of the degradability behavior can contribute to the development of biodegradable plastic waste management in the future.
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