Biodegradable Plastic

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  • Topic: Biodegradable plastic, Polymer, Biodegradation
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Environment Australia
Biodegradable Plastics – Developments and Environmental Impacts

OCTOBER, 2002

Prepared in association with ExcelPlas Australia
Ref: 3111-01

NOLAN-ITU Pty Ltd

ACN 067 785 853

ABN 23 359 240 890

P.O. Box 393 Level 1, 625 High St, East Kew Victoria 3102 Telephone: (03) 9859 3344 Facsimile: (03) 9859 3411

NOLAN-ITU PTY LTD
ACN 067 785 853 ABN 23 359 240 890

Melbourne PO Box 393 Level 1, 625 High Street East Kew VIC 3102 Tel: (03) 9859 3344 Fax: (03) 9859 3411

Copyright © Environment Australia 2002

CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 2 INTRODUCTION TO BIODEGRADABLE PLASTICS ........................................1 BIODEGRADABLE STARCH-BASED POLYMERS ..........................................3 2.1 Thermoplastic Starch Products 2.2 Starch Synthetic Aliphatic Polyester Blends 2.3 Starch and PBS/PBSA Polyester Blends 2.4 Starch-PVOH Blends 3 4 5 6

3

BIODEGRADABLE POLYESTERS ....................................................................7 3.1 PHA (Naturally Produced) Polyesters 3.2 PHBH (Naturally Produced) Polyesters 3.3 PLA (Renewable Resource) Polyesters 3.4 PCL (Synthetic Aliphatic) Polyesters 3.5 PBS (Synthetic Aliphatic) Polyesters 3.6 AAC Copolyesters 3.7 Modified PET 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

4

OTHER DEGRADABLE POLYMERS...............................................................15 4.1 Water Soluble Polymers 4.2 Photo-biodegradable Plastics 4.3 Controlled Degradation Additive Masterbatches 15 16 17

5

EMERGING APPLICATION AREAS IN AUSTRALIA ......................................19 5.1 Coated Paper 5.2 Agricultural Mulch Film 5.3 Shopping Bags 5.4 Food Waste Film and Bags 5.5 Consumer Packaging Materials 5.6 Landfill Cover Film 5.7 Other Applications 19 20 20 20 21 21 21

6

STANDARDS AND TEST METHODS...............................................................22 6.1 Biodegradation Standards and Tests 6.2 Compost Toxicity Tests 6.3 Difference Between Standards for Biodegradation 6.4 Development of Australian Standards 22 27 28 28

3111-01/EA rpt1-3.doc

Environment Australia Biodegradable Plastics – Developments and Environmental Impacts

CONTENTS
7 DISPOSAL ENVIRONMENTS...........................................................................29 7.1 Composting Facilities and Soil Burial 7.2 Anaerobic Digestion 7.3 Waste Water Treatment Plants 7.4 Reprocessing Facilities 7.5 Landfills 7.6 Marine and Freshwater Environments 7.7 Litter 29 31 31 31 31 32 32

8

PLASTICS SORTING AND REPROCESSING .................................................34 8.1 Key Issues 8.2 Recyclable Plastics Sorting Considerations 8.3 Reprocessing Considerations 34 34 35

9

POTENTIAL POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS....................................37 9.1 Composting 9.2 Landfill Degradation 9.3 Energy Use 9.4 Greenhouse Gas Emissions 37 37 37 38

10 POTENTIAL NEGATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS ..................................39 10.1 Pollution of Aquatic Environments 10.2 Litter 10.3 Compost Toxicity 10.4 Recalcitrant Residues 10.5 Additives and Modifiers 10.6 Prodegradants and Other Additives 10.7 Source of Raw Materials 39 39 40 40 41 42 43

11 SOLUTIONS, FUTURE DIRECTIONS AND RESEARCH.................................44 12 CONCLUSIONS ................................................................................................46 13 REFERENCES ..................................................................................................50 14 REPORT LIMITATIONS ....................................................................................52 APPENDICES Appendix A: Glossary

3111-01/EA rpt1-3.doc

Environment Australia Biodegradable Plastics – Developments and Environmental Impacts

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Biodegradable plastics are a new generation of polymers emerging on the Australian market. Biodegradable plastics have an expanding range of potential applications, and driven by the growing use of plastics in packaging and the perception that...
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