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Four major categories of biodegradable materials and their advantages and disadvantages

September 15, 2023

Currently, fully degradable materials are mainly categorized into four main types: polylactic acid (PLA), polylactic acid ester (Phat) and polylactic acid ester (PBAT).

  •   PLA: One of the common fully degradable plastics made by polymerizing lactic acid as the main raw material. The production process of PLA is pollution-free and the product is biodegradable. Waste PLA is decomposed into carbon dioxide and water through composting or oxygen-enriched and microbial decomposition at temperatures above 55°C, realizing the natural material cycle without any impact on the environment. At present, the production of PLA mainly adopts propylene glycol ester ring-opening polymerization process. Lactic acid is first dehydrated to generate oligomers, then depolymerized to generate propylene glycol ester, and then ring-opening polymerization to generate PLA. Polylactic acid also has reliable biological safety, biodegradability, good mechanical properties and easy processing, is widely used in packaging, textiles, agricultural plastic film and biomedical polymer materials and other industries. The disadvantage is that the degradation conditions are relatively harsh. However, due to its relatively low cost in biodegradable plastics, its consumption is at the top of the list.
  • PBS: It is produced by polycondensation of succinic acid and 1,4-butanediol, and the raw material is fermented from petroleum or biological resources. It is easily decomposed into carbon dioxide and water by various microorganisms or enzymes in nature, and has good biocompatibility, bioabsorption and heat resistance. It can be used in packaging films, tableware, foam packaging materials, daily bottles, medicine bottles, agricultural films, pesticide and fertilizer slow-release materials and other fields.
  •  PBAT: It is a thermoplastic fully degradable. It is usually produced from fatty acids and butylene glycol through petrochemical or biological fermentation. It has good ductility and elongation at break, as well as good heat resistance and impact properties.PBAT has the advantages of good film-forming performance and easy film blowing, and is widely used in the fields of disposable packaging film and agricultural film. In addition, PBAT has excellent biodegradability and is one of the more active degradable materials in the current research and market application of degradable plastics.
  •   PHA: Including polyhydroxyalkanoates and several other types. The degradation mode is very special. It can be completely degraded to carbon dioxide and water in the body after use. Can be used for disposable products, medical device surgical gowns, packaging and composting bags, medical sutures, prosthetic devices, bandages, orthopedic needles, anti-adhesion films and stents.

  Check out their advantages and disadvantages

  Fully degradable materials materials offer advantages in terms of performance, utility, degradability and safety. In terms of performance, they can meet or exceed the performance of traditional plastics in some specific areas; in terms of practicality, fully degradable and similar traditional plastics have similar application performance and hygiene performance; they can be degraded quickly. In the natural environment (specific microorganisms, temperature and humidity) after use, it is easily favored by the environment in terms of safety. Substances produced or residual in the process are not harmful to the environment and will not affect the survival of human beings and other organisms.

  Disadvantages: The biggest obstacle to replacing traditional plastics at present is that they are more expensive to produce.