Biodegradation of PP films modified with organic pro-degradant: natural ageing and biodegradation in soil in respirometric test

Document Type : Original research


Laboratory of Polymeric Materials, Lapol, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS, Avenida Bento Gonçalves 9500, Porto Alegre, Brasil.


In this study, PP films were modified with an organic pro-degradant in different concentrations (1, 2 and 3 wt.%), exposed in the first step of degradation to natural ageing for 100 days followed by biodegradation in simulated soil in the respirometric test for 100 days. At the end of the combined degradation process the PP samples were characterized according to their morphological and physical properties and the CO2 generated during the biodegradation in soil was monitored. The CO2 production by the PP films modified with the organic pro-degradant was proportional to the oxidation rate and weight loss of the samples. The reduction in the average viscosimetric molecular weight could be attributed to chain scission due to the weathering conditions to which the samples were exposed (natural ageing followed by biodegradation in soil). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of the PP films revealed surface deterioration of the films with the organic pro-degradant after the combined degradation process.


Main Subjects

  1. Chiellini E, Corti A, Swift G (2003) Biodegradation of thermally-oxidized, fragmented low-density polyethylenes. Polym Deg Stabil 81: 341-351
  2. Ojeda TFM, Dalmolin E, Forte MMC, Jacques RJS, Bento FM, Camargo FAO (2009) Abiotic and biotic degradation of oxo-biodegradable polyethylenes. Polym Deg Stabil 94: 965-970
  3. Miyazaki K, Arai T, Shibata K, Terano M, Nakatani, H (2012) Study on biodegradation mechanism of novel oxo-biodegradable polypropylenes in an aqueous medium. Polym Deg Stabil 97: 2177-2184
  4. Rudnik E, Briassoulis D (2011) Comparative biodegradation in soil behavior of two biodegradable polymers based on renewable resources. J Polym Environ 19:18-39
  5. Koutny M, Lemaire J, Delort AM (2006) Biodegradation of polyethylene films with prooxidant additives. Chemosphere 64: 1243- 1252
  6. Contat-Rodrigo L (2013) Thermal characterization of the oxo-degradation of polypropylene containing a pro-oxidant/pro-degradant additive. Polym Deg Stabil 98: 2117-2124
  7. Jansen JFGA, Gijsman P (2008) Process for improving the biodegradability of a polymer, WO 2008/006492 A1
  8. Lewis FD, Lauterbach RT, Heine HG, Hartmann W (1975) Photochemical α cleavage of benzoin derivatives. Polar transition states for free-radical formation. J Am Chem Soc 97: 1519-1525
  9. Shah PB, Bandopadhyay S, Bellare JR (1995) Environmentally degradable starch filled low density polyethylene. Polym Deg Stabil 47: 165- 173
  10. Han X, Pan J (2009) A model for simultaneous crystallisation and biodegradation of biodegradable polymers. Biomaterials 30: 423-430
  11. Masood F, Yasin T, Hameed A (2014) Comparative oxo-biodegrdation study of poly- 3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate/ polypropylene blend in controlled environments. Int Biodet Biodegr 87: 1-8
  12. Corti A, Muniyasamy S, Vitali M, Imam SH, Chiellini E (2010) Oxidation and biodegradation of polyethylene films containing pro-oxidant additives: Synergistic effects of sunlight exposure, thermal aging and fungal biodegradation. Polym Deg Stabil 95: 1106-1114
  13. Chiellini E, Corti A, D’Antone S, Baciu R (2006) Oxo-biodegradable carbon backbone polymers – Oxidative degradation of polyethylene under accelerated test conditions. Polym Deg Stabil 91: 2739-2747
  14. Ojeda T, Freitas A, Birck K, Dalmolin E, Jacques R, Bento F, Camargo F (2011) Degradability of linear polyolefins under natural weathering. Polym Deg Stabil 96: 703-707
  15. Hongyu Cui, H, Hanus, R Kessler, MR (2013) Degradation of ROMP-based bio-renewable polymers by UV radiation. Polym Deg Stabil 98: 2357–2365
  16. Tocháček J, Vrátníčková Z (2014) Polymer life-time prediction: The role of temperature in UV accelerated ageing of polypropylene and its copolymers. Polymer Testing 36: 82–87
  17. Lucas N, Bienaimec C, Belloy C, Queneudec M, Silvestre F, Nava-saucedo JE (2008) Polymer Biodegradation: Mechanisms and estimation techniques. Chemosphere 73: 429-442
  18. Jeyakumar D, Chirsteen J, Doble M (2013) Synergistic effects of pretreatment and blending on fungi mediated biodegradation of polypropylenes. Bioresour Technol 148: 78-85
  19. Phang YN, Chee SY, Lee CO, Teh YL (2011) Thermal and microbial degradation of alginate-based superabsorbent polymer. Polym Deg Stabil 96: 1163-1661
  20. Bertin D, Leblanc M, Marque, SRA, Siri D (2010) Polypropylene degradation: Theoretical and experimental investigation. Polym Deg Stabil 95: 782-791
  21. Marek A, Kaprálková L, Schimidt P, Pfleger J, Humlícek J, Poposposil J, Pilar J (2006) Spatial resolution of degradation in stabilized polystyrene and polypropylene plaques exposed to accelerated photodegradation or heat aging. Polym Deg Stabil 91: 444-458
  22. Montagna LS, Catto AL, Rossini K, Forte MMC, Santana RMC (2014) Evaluation of the effect of organic pro-degradant concentration in polypropylene exposed to the natural ageing. AIP Conference Proceedings 1593: 329-332
  23. Amintowlieh Y, Tzoganakis C, Hatzikiriakos SG, Penlidis A (2014) Effects of processing variables on polypropylene degradation and long chain branching with UV irradiation. Polym Deg Stabil 104: 1–10
  24. American Society for Testing Materials, Standard practice for outdoor weathering of plastics. ASTM D1435-13
  25. American Society for Testing Materials, Standard practice for outdoor exposure testing of photodegradable plastics. ASTM D5272-08
  26. Montagna LS, Forte MMC, Santana RMC (2014) Study on the accelerated biodegradation of PP modified with an organic pro-degradant additive. J Appl Polym Sci 131(22):1-5
  27. American Society for Testing Materials (2003) Standard test method for determining aerobic biodegradation of plastics materials under controlled composting conditions. ASTM D 5338- 98
  28. American Society for Testing Materials, Standard test method for determining weight loss from plastic materials exposed to simulated municipal solid-waste (MSW) aerobic compost environment. ASTM D6003-96
  29. International Organization for Standardization: (2003) Plastics - Determination of the ultimate aerobic biodegradability in soil by measuring the oxygen demand in a respirometric or the amount of carbon dioxide evolved, ISO 17556
  30. Montagna LS, Forte MMC, Santana RMC (2013) Induced degradation of polypropylene with an organic pro-degradant additive. J Mat Sci Eng A 3:123-31
  31. Bandrupt J, Immergut EH (1999) Polymer Handbook, Wiley-Interscience publication, 4th ed., New York, 145-240
  32. De Paoli, M-A (2008) Degradação e Estabilização de Polímeros. Editora: Artliber, São Paulo
  33. Shubhra QTH, Alam AKMM, Khan MA, Saha M, Saha D, Gafur MA (2010) Study on the mechanical properties, environmental effect, degradation characteristics and ionizing radiation effect on silk reinforced polypropylene/natural rubber composite. Composites: Part A 41: 1587- 1596
  34. Cáceres CAC, Canevarolo SV (2006) Correlação entre o Índice de Fluxo à Fusão e a Função da Distribuição de Cisão de Cadeia durante a degradação termo-mecânica do polipropileno. Polímeros 16 (4): 294-298
  35. Fechine GJM, Rosa DS, Rezende ME, Demarquette NR (2009) Effect of UV radiation and pro-oxidant on PP biodegradability. Polym Eng Sci 49: 123-128