UBC Undergraduate Research

The compostability of biodegradable polymer products Chen, Richard


The compostability of a few biodegradable polymer (BDP) products were investigated through two sets of tests. The first set of tests is laboratory-scale tests that were conducted in Dr. Anthony Lau`s laboratory in the department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. The second set of tests is pilot-scale tests which were conducted in the UBC in-vessel composter. The polymers studied includes: Biodegradable Solutions International (BSI) Polylacticacid (PLA), Biodegradable Food Services (BFS) PLA, Biobag™ biodegradable plastic bags, Ralston™ oxo-biodegradable plastic bags, and Papermate™ pen casings. Qualitative analysis of the composting results showed that apart from Biobag™ biodegradable plastic bags, the other polymer products showed little or no signs of degradation. A comparison between BFS polymer and BSI polymer showed that BFS degrades faster since discoloration was observed after 2 weeks on composting in the laboratory-scale tests compared to no physical changes with the BSI polymer. Analysis of the BSI polymer retrieved from the pilot-scale tests however, showed changes in tensile strength, which might indicate degradation of the polymer through hydrolysis.[Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”]

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