Oxo-Biodegradable Polymers

Authored by: Emo Chiellini , Stefania Cometa , Andrea Corti

Encyclopedia of Polymer Applications

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781498729932
eBook ISBN: 9781351019422
Adobe ISBN:


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This entry is aimed at providing a rather comprehensive overview on polymeric materials based on fossil fuel feedstock and renewable resources and relevant plastic goods. Specific attention will be focused on the issues regarding the management of plastic waste with a particular reference to the accumulation of plastic commodities abandoned in the environment at the end of their service life. An option beyond a sensibilization of plastic goods utilizers to a conservative disposal of plastic waste, in order to mitigate the environmental burden bound to plastic waste recalcitrant to biodegradation, is based on the design and production of heteropolymeric materials susceptible to relative molar mass fragmentation by hydrolytic cleavage either mediated or not by enzymes released by environmentally ubiquitous microorganisms. Nowadays that objective is reached by using heteropolymeric biodegradable materials obtained from renewable resources that are taken upon the feed and food compartments. The impact of that class of polymeric materials and relevant plastic items, beyond the moral issue bound to the subtraction of raw materials from renewable resources meant for feed and food segments, does not reach a share, since more than a decade from their introduction on the market, higher than 1% on the overall plastic consumption. A realistic approach to a worldwide increase in plastic consumption, not conflicting with feed and food segments, is related to approaches aimed at reengineering of large consumption of full-carbon backbone polymeric materials, namely, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), holding together a share higher than 50% of the overall polymeric materials production. The reengineering of PE and PP polymeric materials finalized to the biodegradation of the relevant plastic items, as realized by internal or external pro-oxidant/pro-degradant additives, is thoroughly described in this entry.

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