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Biodegradable Plasticizers & Polymers


As the world is continuously trying to find a balance between the environment and manufacturing. To learn more read this article on ‘Natural-based Plasticizers [a.k.a. biodegradable plasticizers] and Biopolymer Films’ on ScienceDirect.

What is a Plasticizer?

Plasticizers are an important class of low molecular weight non-volatile compounds that are widely used in polymer industries as additives. They are used to increase flexibility to polymer blends and improve their processability.

Why are Biodegradable Plasticizers Important?

Plasticizers are typically not covalently bonded to the polymers, allowing them to leach out over time, which results in human exposure and environmental contamination.

“The use of natural and/or biodegradable plasticizers, with low toxicity and good compatibility with several plastics, resins, rubber and elastomers in substitution of conventional plasticizers, such as phthalates and other synthetic conventional plasticizers, attracted the market along with the increasing worldwide trend towards use of biopolymers.” Read more here.

Biodegradable Polymers

ScienceDirect also informs us that biodegradable polymers can be categorised in 4 groups depending on synthesis and sources:

“ (a)Polymers from biomass such as the agro-polymers from agro-resources;

(I)polysaccharides, e.g., starches (wheat,potatoes, maize) ligno-cellulosic products (wood, straws, …)and others (pectins, chitosan/chitin, gums)

(II) protein and lipids, e.g., animals (casein, whey, collagen/gelatinand plants (zein, soya and gluten)

(b) polymers obtained by microbial production, e.g., polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) such as poly(hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) and poly(hydroxybutyrate co-hydroxyvalerate (PHBv);

(c) polymers chemically synthesized using monomers obtained from agro-resources, e.g., poly(lactic acid) (PLA);

(d) polymers whose monomers and polymers are both obtained by chemical synthesis from fossil resources, e.g., polycaprolactones (PCL), polyesteramides (PEA), aliphatic co-polyesters (e.g., PBSA) and aromatic co-polyesters (e.g., PBAT).

Only the last category is obtained from non-renewable resources. The first category is considered as agro-polymers and the others are called biodegradable biopolyesters. Synthetic polymers are gradually being replaced by biodegradable materials especially those derived from natural resources, due to its biodegradability. Recent innovations in edible and/or biodegradable polymer films are widely discussed in the literature presenting improvements in food packaging, surgery, pharmaceutical uses.” Read more here.

Common Examples of Bio-degradable Plasticizers

  1. Soybean oil (SO)

  2. Epoxidized soybean oil (ESO)

  3. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)

  4. Triethyl citrate (TEC)

Interested in ordering bio-degradable plasticizers? Contact us here.

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