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DeveloPment of a 100 % BIodegradable Plastic Fiber to Manufacture Twines to Stake Creeping Plants and Nets for Packaging AgricUltural ProductS

Final Report Summary - PICUS (DeveloPment of a 100 % BIodegradable Plastic Fiber to Manufacture Twines to Stake Creeping Plants and Nets for Packaging AgricUltural ProductS)

The objective of PICUS was to develop a fully compostable fibre to manufacture twines for staking and propping plants and nets for packaging agricultural products. The main innovations achieved in this project are the following:

- Development of two new functional compound to improve the blending properties of different aliphatic polyesters (amorphous and semicrystalline) and the blending properties of one of those polyesters plus another biodegradable material (PVOH). Although the latter option did not provide good results for the two aimed products, it will be useful for other less-restrictive applications. For this approach, optimal coupling agents / peroxide, were selected and new twin screw and barrel configuration was developed in order to minimise the use of chemical reagents and maximise the blend properties.

- Development of a new synergic blends of biodegradable polymers (compound), whose characteristics are:
a) Rheological and stretching properties suitable for ESFTW1 and EMS2 process.
b) Mechanical, thermal and chemical requirements (in a green house environment during the plant grow for twines and in a hypermarket / house environment for nets).
c) Good mechanical properties to obtain an optimal crushed size when the twine / net has finished its useful life.
d) Fully compostable when it is crushed and mixed with; the waste plant for twines and the organic fraction of municipal solid waste for nets.

- Development of a methodology to produce easily a biodegradable fibre, which is cheap to adapt to the requirements of each crop (controlling properties such as flexibility, tensile, biodegradability rate, etc.) and net packaging parameters (number of fiber / cm, strength, etc.).

As a result of all these partial developments, in the end, this project aimed to develop the following final product:
biodegradable fibres
- with the same advantages as PP fibres, and with better cutting characteristics;
- able to prevent the loss of functional properties during its useful life;
- able to be "on-farm composted" or treated in composting plants (MSW system) after its useful life.

The new plastic fibres developed in this project have demonstrated to fulfil the following criteria:
- 100 % biodegradable
- easy processing
- hydrophobic
- low plastodeformation (creep)
- easy cutting
- competitive cost.

Dissemination and use

1. Compounding, ESTFW and EMS processes (material formulation and processing parameters), to obtain the staking twines and the packaging nets.

Result description:
100 % biodegradable staking twines and packaging nets manufactured with conventional equipment and made up of biodegradable materials available on the market, with the same advantages that PP/HDPE fibres, with better cutting characteristics; able to prevent the loss of functional properties during its useful life and able to be "on-farm composted" or treated in composting plants (MSW system) after its useful life. Thus saving the waste management costs.

2. Best practice guideline for the use and recycling of the developed twine / net.

Result description:
Best practice guidelines for the use and recycling of the developed biodegradable twines / nets.

3. Compounding and injection processes (material formulation and processing parameters), for applications using the PVOH from PVAXX.

Result description:
100 % biodegradable plant pots and tree ties made up of two biodegradable materials (one of them is PVOH), whose blend is injected in a conventional equipment. The final products have the same properties as the current ones with the advantage of innovation, as they have extended the applications of two biodegradable materials, contributing to an environmentally friendly image.