Published : 2022-08-30

Degradation of selected synthetic polyesters in natural conditions


The results of the study on degradation of selected synthetic polyesters namely poly(L-lactide) (PLLA), poly[(DL)-lactide] (PLA) and aliphatic - aromatic co-polyester terephthalic acid/ adipic acid/1,4-butanediol (BTA) in the industrial compost heap, a compost containing activated sludge, standardized soil or dynamic sea water were presented. The course of degradation process was monitored by evaluation of changes of molecular weights of the samples by GPC method (Fig. 1, 3, 4 and 7), macroscopic changes of the surface (Fig. 2) and weight loss. It has been found that most significant decrease in molecular weight and clear disintegration of the materials investigated (particularly PLA samples) took place during the degradation under the industrial composting conditions. So this is the proper degradation environment for the tested compostable polymers, for their degradation processes in the other environments go much more slowly. The changes in the characteristic properties of the environments used were also evaluated during the process of polymers' degradation up to six-month time (Table 1, 2 and 5). Additionally, on the basis of the results of phytotoxicity test, no harmful effects of the degradation products of PLA and PLLA samples, incubated in the soil, on the growth and development of the plants seeds sown in the soil has been found (Fig. 5 and 6, Table 3 and 4).





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Adamus, G., Dacko, P., Musioł, M., Sikorska, W., Sobota, M., Krasowska, K., Biczak, R., Herman, B., Rutkowska, M., Rychter, P., & Kowalczuk, M. (2022). Degradation of selected synthetic polyesters in natural conditions. Polimery, 51(7-8), 539-546. Retrieved from