Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Compostability testing of bio-based materials

The following materials have been evaluated in the course of the project:
- Polylactide (PLA);
- Flexibilized PLA;
- PLA-polycaprolactone copolymer;
- Alpha-cyclodextrin (CD);
- Beta-CD;
- Gamma-CD;
- Acetylated alpha-CD;
- Acetylated beta-CD;
- Partially acetylated beta-CD;
- Random methylated-beta-CD;
- (2-Hydroxy)propyl beta-CD;
- Imazalil/beta-CD;
- Allyl isothiocyanate/alpha-CD;
- Initial chitosan PR/d;
- Chitosan lactate.

The following methods have been applied in the course of the project:
- Compostability testing program according to EN 13432 including material characteristics (heavy metals);

- Biodegradation under controlled composting conditions;
- Disintegration;

- Effect on compost quality and ecotoxicity test (summer barley plant growth test and cress test);

- Biodegradation in soil and water at 20 degrees Celsius (examined for several materials);

- Anaerobic biodegradation of PLA at soil conditions (58 degrees Celsius).

All methods resulted in useful information.

As a general conclusion, it is noted that the developed packaging has the potential of fulfilling all requirements on compostability as required by EN 13432. The basic PLA material of the packaging has already proven to fulfil all these requirements. The influence of other parts, such as a plasma-treated layer, nanoclays or chitosan, on compostability should still be further examined. It is expected that a PLA packaging covered with a plasma-coated layer would probably also fulfil all requirements of EN 13432. However, further testing is required. Biodegradation is no issue for the plasma-treated layer, as it is an inorganic material, and the plasma coating will probably cause no negative ecotoxic effects. Furthermore, the coating is only applied in very thin layers (e.g. 20nm) and thus, will have only a limited effect on disintegration. Moreover, no insurmountable problems are expected when including nanoclays, chitosan lactate, and/or antimicrobial agents/CD complexes in the PLA packaging.

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