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Biodegradable and Degradable Plastics Biodegradation Testing in Aerobic Compost and Anaerobic Environments. Plastivida Brazil . June 10, 2008 Joseph P. Greene, Ph.D. Professor California State University, Chico Chico, CA  95929-0789. Agenda. Research Objectives Products Tested Results

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Plastivida brazil

Biodegradable and Degradable Plastics Biodegradation Testing in Aerobic Compost and Anaerobic Environments

PlastividaBrazil

June 10, 2008

Joseph P. Greene, Ph.D.ProfessorCalifornia State University, ChicoChico, CA  95929-0789


Agenda

Agenda

  • Research Objectives

  • Products Tested

  • Results

    • Compost Environment

      • Chico Green Yard Waste

      • Chico In-vessel Manure Waste

      • Vacaville In-vessel Food Waste

      • Mariposa County In-vessel Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

      • Laboratory ASTM D-6400

    • Marine Water Environment

    • Anaerobic Digestion Environment

    • Laboratory Quality Tests for Contamination of Recycled Plastics

  • Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Questions


Objectives of research

Objectives of Research

  • Evaluate

    • Performance, degradation rates and environmental impacts of degradable plastic products in commercially operated compost facilities and in simulated marine environments.

  • Testing

    • Bio-degradation

      • Compost environment: windrow, in-vessel, and laboratory locations

      • Marine environment

      • Anaerobic digestion

    • Environmental Safety Assessments

      • Fate and persistence of the by-products and toxicity resulting from the degradation

    • Mechanical and physical properties

      • Recycled plastics with contamination from degradable plastics


Plastivida brazil

What does Biodegradable Mean?

Environment – soil, compost, waste water plant, marine

Hydrolytic

Oxidative

Oligomers & polymer fragments

Enzymatic

Polymer chains with susceptible linkages

Specified time frame.

No residual residues.

Completemicrobial assimilation

CO2 + H2O + Cell biomass

Can the microorganisms in the disposal system (composting, soil, anaerobic vessel) assimilate/utilize the carbon substrate as food source completely and in a short defined time period?

  • Biodegradation: Only if all fragmented residues consumed by microorganisms as a food & energy source

  • Define time and environment (disposal system)

Reference: Dr. Ramani Narayan, Michigan State University, www.msu.edu/~narayan


Biodegradable versus degradable plastics

Biodegradable versus Degradable Plastics

  • Biodegradable Plastics

    • Degraded by microorganisms in soil, compost, or marine environments.

    • Made from natural materials, e.g.,corn, potato, polylactic acid, sugar cane, microbes, etc.

    • Made from petroleum products, e.g. modified or polyesters.

    • Compostable

      • Regulated by ASTM standards- will degrade in compost environment in less than 180-days.

      • Does not leave any fragments in residue, does not have any heavy metals or toxins, and will support plant life.

  • Degradable plastics

    • Degraded by sunlight, oxygen, or microbes.

      • Oxodegradable, photo-degradable, starch-polyethylene plastics.

    • Can cause environmental problems.

      • Results in small fragments that can pollute compost, landfill, marine.

      • Does not degrade as fast as compostable plastics, may leave small fragments in soil, may not have toxic residuals, may not support plant life.


Definitions

Definitions

  • Degradable plastics

    • All plastics are degradable, though the mechanism is different.

    • Oxidation: plastics degrade in oxygen environment. Anti-oxidants are added to polymers.

    • UV light: plastics degrade in sunlight. Stabilizers are added to polymers.

    • Heat: polymers can degrade under high temperatures. Stabilizers are added

  • Oxo-Degradable

    • Pro-degradents are added to increase the rate of oxidation and disintegration of plastics though NOT biodegradable since microorganisms do not consume them.

  • Biodegradable

    • Plastics degrade from microorganisms that consume material but time frame is not specified.

      • Can be biobased or petroleum based. Both can be consumed by microorganisms.

  • Compostable (Most complete definition)

    • Plastics that degrade from microorganisms that consume material in specified time frame and under specified environmental conditions.

      • Can be biobased or petroleum based. Both can be consumed by microorganisms.


Products tested

Products Tested

  • Compostable (Certified by Biodegradable Polymers Institute- BPI)

    • PLA Cups, forks, spoons, knives, clamshell containers, lids, and straws

    • Biobag trash bags

    • Ecoflex Polyester bags

    • PHA Bags

    • Husky Eco Guard biodegradable bags

    • Sugar Cane Bagasse plates, bowls, and containers.

  • Oxo-Degradable (NOT certified by Biodegradable Polymers Institute- BPI)

    • Natural Value Oxo-degradable Ecosafe Trash Bags

    • Oxo Biodegradable Eco-friendly plastic bag

    • UV-degradable plastic bags and soda can rings

  • Control

    • LDPE plastic trash bag

    • Kraft paper

    • Cellulose filter paper


Commercial compost environment

Commercial Compost Environment

  • Sites

    • Chico Green Yard Waste

    • Chico In-vessel Manure Waste

    • Vacaville In-vessel Food Waste

    • Mariposa County In-vessel Municipal Solid Waste

  • Materials (Purchased at stores or on-line)

    • Compostable: PLA lids, Biobag trash bags, Ecoflex Polyester bags, PHA Bags, Husky Eco Guard biodegradable bags, Sugar Cane Bagasse lids.

    • Oxodegradable: Ecosafe Trash Bags, Eco-friendly plastic bag, UV-degradable plastic bags

    • Controls: LDPE plastic trash bag and Kraft paper

  • Tests

    • Monitored visual disintegration and biodegradation of products after 30, 60, 90, and 180 day test intervals.

    • Monitored temperature of air and compost, moisture percentage, pH, compost maturity, and % solids.


Chico green yard waste compost pictures 120 days

Chico Green Yard Waste Compost Pictures (120 days)

Compost pile

Incoming trash

Oxobiodegradable

PLA Container

Biobag bag


Chico green yard waste compost

Chico Green Yard Waste Compost

  • Results:

    • 30 days: (Windrow)

      • No degradation: Oxo-biodegradable plastic trash bags

      • Some degradation: Food waste and PLA cups, forks, spoons, knives, clamshell containers, lids, and straws, Sugar cane plates and lids, and Biobag trash bags.

    • 120 days: (Windrow)

      • No degradation: Oxo-biodegradable plastic trash bags

      • More degradation: Small fragments of PLA container and straw, and Biobag trash bags.

      • Full degradation: no visible fragments- PLA cups, forks, spoons, knives, and lids; sugar cane lids and plates.


In vessel manure and food waste compost pictures 120 days

In-vessel Manure and Food Waste Compost Pictures (120 days)

In-vessel Compost pile

Turning row

Incoming MSW trash

PLA Container

Biobag bag


In vessel manure and food waste compost

In-vessel Manure and Food Waste Compost

  • Results

    • 30 days (In-vessel)

      • Some degradation: Food waste and PLA cups, forks, spoons, knives, clamshell containers, lids, and straws, Sugar cane plates and lids, and Biobag trash bags.

    • 120 days: (Windrow)

      • More degradation: Small fragments of PLA cups and container, and Biobag trash bags.

      • Full degradation: no visible fragments- PLA, forks, spoons, knives, and lids; sugar cane lids and plates.


Norcal vacaville in vessel compost pictures

NorCal Vacaville In-vessel Compost Pictures

Compost pile after 30 days

In-vessel composting with polyethylene cover


Norcal in vessel compost pictures

NorCal In-vessel Compost Pictures

Corn starch plastic bag

Mirel PHA plastic bag

Ecoflex plastic bag

Oxodegradable plastic bag

Oxodegradable plastic bag

UV-polyethylene plastic bag


Norcal vacaville in vessel compost pictures1

NorCal Vacaville In-vessel Compost Pictures

PLA lids

Sugar can lids

Kraft paper

Husky Eco-Guard plastic bag

LDPE plastic bags


Norcal vacaville in vessel compost pictures2

NorCal Vacaville In-vessel Compost Pictures

Burlap sacks filled with samples

Compost pile after 30 days


Norcal vacaville in vessel food waste compost

NorCal Vacaville In-vessel Food Waste Compost

  • Results

    • 30 days (In-vessel) September toOctober 2006

      • Some degradation: Food waste and PLA cups, forks, spoons, knives, clamshell containers, lids, and straws, Sugar cane plates and lids, and Corn starch trash bags.


Norcal in vessel compost pictures 30 days

NorCal In-vessel Compost Pictures- 30 days

Corn starch plastic bag

Mirel PHA plastic bag

Ecoflex plastic bag

Oxodegradable plastic bag

Oxodegradable plastic bag

UV-polyethylene plastic bag


Norcal vacaville after 30 days pictures

NorCal Vacaville after 30 days Pictures

PLA lids

Sugar can lids

Kraft paper

Husky Eco-Guard plastic bag

LDPE plastic bags


Vacaville in vessel food waste compost pictures 180 days

Vacaville In-vessel Food Waste Compost Pictures (180 days)

In-vessel Compost pile

Kraft paper

Sugar cane lids

  • Compost temperature: 140 +/- 5F Moisture: 40-45%


Vacaville in vessel food waste compost pictures 180 days1

Vacaville In-vessel Food Waste Compost Pictures (180 days)

Oxodegradable bag

UV-degradable

LDPE stretch film control


Vacaville in vessel food waste compost

Vacaville In-vessel Food Waste Compost

  • Results

    • 30 days (In-vessel)

    • 60 days: (Windrow)

    • 180 days: (Windrow) March 2007

      • No degradation: Oxo-biodegradable and UV degradable plastic trash bags; LDPE control.

      • Some bio-degradation: Sugar cane lids and Kraft paper control though samples were very wet and fell apart when moved.

      • Full degradation: no visible fragments- PHA bag, Ecoflex bag, PLA lids, Biobag trash bags.


Mariposa county in vessel msw compost pictures

Mariposa County In-vessel MSW Compost Pictures

ECS In-vessel Compost Method

Inside chamber with samples


Mariposa in vessel food waste compost

Mariposa In-vessel Food Waste Compost

  • Oven Temperature: 60C for 3 days, 50C for 21 days

  • % Moisture: > 50%


Mariposa after 42 days pictures

Mariposa after 42 days Pictures

Corn starch plastic bag

Mirel PHA plastic bag

Ecoflex plastic bag

Oxodegradable plastic bag

Oxodegradable plastic bag

UV-polyethylene plastic bag


Mariposa after 42 days pictures1

Mariposa after 42 days Pictures

PLA lids

Sugar can lids

Kraft paper

Husky Eco-Guard plastic bag

LDPE plastic bags


Norcal vacaville windrow compost

NorCal Vacaville Windrow Compost

Samples moved to windrow compost after 42 days for an additional 150 days

In-vessel Compost pile

  • Compost temperature: 140 +/- 5F Moisture: 40-45%


Mariposa in vessel food waste compost1

Mariposa In-vessel Food Waste Compost

  • Results

    • 42 days (In-vessel)

      • Some degradation: Food waste and PLA cups, forks, spoons, knives, clamshell containers, lids, and straws, Sugar cane plates and lids, and Biobag trash bags.

    • 150 days: (Windrow) Identical to Vacaville result

      • No degradation: Oxo-biodegradable and UV degradable plastic trash bags; LDPE control.

      • Some bio-degradation: Sugar cane lids and Kraft paper control though samples were very wet and fell apart when moved.

      • Full degradation: no visible fragments- PHA bag, Ecoflex bag, PLA lids, Biobag trash bags.


Plastivida brazil

Mariposa In-vessel (42 days) plus Vacaville Windrow Compost (150 days)Pictures Note: Same results as Vacaville Compost alone

Kraft paper and sugar cane lids

Oxodegradable bags


Laboratory biodegradation compost

Laboratory Biodegradation Compost

  • Materials

    • Kraft paper, Cellulose filter paper and low density polyethylene controls

    • Oxo-biodegradable: Ecosafe and Eco-friendly plastic trash bags

    • Compostable biodegradable products, i.e., PLA straws, Biobag trash bags, PHA bags, Ecoflex bags

    • Biodegradable: Stalk Market sugarcane lids.

  • Method (Per ASTM D-5338)

    • Redesigned of laboratory procedure with

      • Improve the accuracy of CO2 measurement with LabView data acquisition system and computer control.

      • CO2 scrubber, 50 psi pressure canister to supply moist air.

    • 45-day test interval

  • Tests

    • Monitored carbon dioxide and oxygen levels for 45-days.

    • Phytoxicity tests with tomato seeds.

    • Regulated metals testing for Cd, Pb, and Co.


Testing methods

Wet air

void of CO2

Computer

CO2 or O2 Detector

Biogas

42 Jars at 50C for 45 days

Testing Methods

  • Laboratory Environment

    • ASTM 5338 Standards

Sampling process schematic.


Laboratory biodegradation compost pictures

Laboratory Biodegradation Compost Pictures


45 day degradation results

45-day Degradation Results


Plant growth results

Plant Growth Results


Regulated metal testing

Regulated Metal Testing

Note: Maximum limit of Pb is 30 mg/kg, Cd is 17 mg/kg and

Co is not regulated in the US.


Anaerobic digestion at uc davis

Anaerobic Digestion at UC Davis

  • Materials

    • Kraft paper and low density polyethylene controls

    • Oxo-biodegradable: Ecosafe and Eco-friendly plastic trash bags

    • Biodegradable: Food waste and biodegradable products, i.e., PLA lids and straws, Biobag trash bags, PHA bags, Ecoflex bags, and Stalk Market sugarcane lids.

  • Methods

    • Per Dr. Zhang’s research from U.C. Davis

    • Place 1 g of sample in 1-L jar with 0.5L of water waste and food sludge at 50°C.

    • Duplicate test with new samples.

  • Tests

    • Monitor biogas production over 30 day period.

  • More research is needed.


Anaerobic digestion at uc davis pictures

Anaerobic Digestion at UC Davis Pictures


Anaerobic digestion at uc davis1

Anaerobic Digestion at UC Davis

  • Results: Duplicate trial: 45 days

  • Conclusions

    • Digestion occurs and biogas (CO2 and Methane) is generated for first 15 days.

    • PHA DOES continues to generate biogas and thus digest anaerobically for the next 30 days.

    • PLA, Ecoflex, oxo-degradable, UV-degradable, and Kraft paper DO NOT generate biogas after 15 days.


Laboratory marine testing

Laboratory Marine Testing

  • Materials

    • Kraft paper and low density polyethylene controls

    • Oxo-biodegradable: Ecosafe and Eco-friendly plastic trash bags

    • Biodegradable: Biodegradable products, i.e., PLA straws, Biobag trash bags, PHA bags, Ecoflex bags, and Stalk Market sugarcane lids.

  • Methods (Based on ASTM D-6692 standards)

    • Place 30 mg of sample in jar with 100 ml of ocean water at 30°C.

      • Ocean water was retrieved in July 2007 from Big Sur beach in California.

      • Water was held at 5°C until testing.

  • Tests

    • At 30 days weigh samples after 24 hours of drying in air and then replace water with fresh 100 ml and place in oven.

    • At 60 days weigh samples after 24 hours of drying in air and then add fresh 40 ml and place in oven.

    • At 90 days weigh samples after 24 hours of drying in air.

  • More research is needed.


Laboratory marine testing pictures

Laboratory Marine TestingPictures

Experimental Set-up

Oxo-degradable 90 days

PHA 90 days

PHA 30 days


Laboratory marine testing1

Laboratory Marine Testing

  • Results

    • 30 days in water

      • No degradation: Oxo-biodegradable and UV degradable plastic trash bags; LDPE control, Kraft paper control; PLA lids; Sugar cane lids; Biobag trash bags; Ecoflex bag, UV degradable soda rings.

      • Some degradation: PHA bag- 36% disintegration

    • 60 days in water

      • No degradation: Oxo-biodegradable and UV degradable plastic trash bags; LDPE control, Kraft paper control; PLA lids; Sugar cane lids; Biobag trash bags; Ecoflex bag, UV degradable soda rings.

      • Some degradation: PHA bag- 60% disintegration

    • 90 days:

      • No degradation: Oxo-biodegradable and UV degradable plastic trash bags; LDPE control, Kraft paper control; PLA lids; Sugar cane lids; Biobag trash bags; Ecoflex bag, UV degradable soda rings.

      • Some degradation: PHA bag- 70% disintegration


Laboratory quality tests for contamination of recycled plastics

Laboratory Quality Tests for Contamination of Recycled Plastics

  • Materials

    • Recycled PET, HDPE, LDPE

    • Oxo-biodegradable plastic trash bags

    • Biodegradable: PLA straws and Biobag trash bags

  • Method

    • Combine LDPE and Biobag bags at 0%, 10% and 20%.

    • Combine HDPE and PLA at 0%, 5%, and10%.

    • Heated plastic bags under IR heater and then chopped with grinder.

    • Injection molded samples with dry blend of plastic.


Laboratory quality tests for contamination of recycled plastics1

Laboratory Quality Tests for Contamination of Recycled Plastics

  • Processing

    • Injection molding tensile bars with 55 ton Arburg.

    • Blow molding of bottles with Rocheleau R4 machine.

    • Blown film with 1” Braybender extruder.

  • Testing

    • Quality

      • Melt index, density, moisture %

      • Opacity, dart impact

    • Mechanical properties

      • Tensile modulus, elongation, and strength, impact

    • Samples were tested in batches of 5.


Results contamination of recycled plastics

Results Contamination of Recycled Plastics

  • Quality tests

    • PLA plastics at concentrations of 5 and 10 wt%

      • Negatively affected melt index, moisture content of LDPE.

      • Decreased tensile strength and impact strength of LDPE.

    • Corn-starch based plastic bags at concentrations of 10 and 20 wt%

      • Negatively affected melt index, moisture content of HDPE.

      • Decreased tensile strength and impact strength of HDPE.

    • Oxodegradable plastics at concentrations of 10 and 20 wt%

      • Negatively affected melt index, moisture content of LDPE.

      • Decreased tensile strength and impact strength of LDPE.

    • More research is needed.


Results contamination of recycled plastics1

Results Contamination of Recycled Plastics

  • Mechanical tests


Summary of biodegradation results

Summary of Biodegradation Results


Conclusions

Conclusions

  • Compostable materials degrade under commercial compost environments.

    • PLA container, Sugar cane lids, PHA bag, Ecoflex bag, and Husky Eco-Guard plastic bag completely degraded in commercial

      • Green yard waste,

      • In-vessel compost systems, and

      • Laboratory conditions

  • Oxodegradable and UV-degradable plastics do NOT biodegrade in any compost environments.

  • Oxodegradable and UV-degradable plastics may fragment into smaller pieces compost environments, but may also create more SEVERE environmental consequences.


Conclusions1

Conclusions

  • PHA degraded in marine and anaerobic digestion environments.

  • Sugar cane degraded in anaerobic digestion environment and also in marine environment.

  • PLA straws, Ecoflex bag, and Biobag did not disintegrate in marine environment and biodegraded slowly in anaerobic digestion environment.


Conclusions2

Conclusions

  • Biodegradable plastics are a contaminant to recycled plastics.

    • PLA and Biobag plastics at concentrations of 10 and 20 wt% can negatively impact melt index, moisture content, tensile and impact properties.

    • Contamination of biodegradable plastics can be controlled like other contaminants to recycled plastics.


Recommendations

Recommendations

  • The research work will help the expanded use of compostable plastic materials for selected applications.

  • The compostable materials should be certified as compostable by BPI and included in procurement standards.

  • The compostable plastic materials should perform well in simple applications, e.g., food service ware, lawn and leaf refuse bags that have dry contents, grocery bags, department store bags, and pet bag products.


Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

  • The author would like to thank the following people and organizations who have helped develop this research work:

    • California Integrated Waste Management Board

    • Mr. Edgar Rojas (CIWMB) and Mr. Mike Leaon (CIWMB)

    • Dr. Cindy Daley (CSU, Chico), Dr. Ken Derucher (CSU, Chico), Dr. Gregory Kallio (CSU, Chico), Dr. Randy Miller (CSU, Chico), and Mr. Peter Natale (CSU, Chico)

    • Dr. Fengyn Wang (NorCal Waste Systems), Chris Taylor (NorCal Waste Systems), and Mr. Greg Pryror (Jepson Prairie Organics).

    • Mr. Steve Engfer (Mariposa County Waste Management).


Questions

Questions?


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