August 11, 2022

How to reduce waste at a low cost?

The number of disposable cups, plates, cutlery and straws used during the holiday season is growing rapidly. As a result, the amount of waste from non-biodegradable polymers is also increasing. This situation forces scientists to look for alternative materials, recycled after use through biodegradation.

Researchers from Lublin University of Technology - Prof. Emil Sasimowski and Łukasz Majewski, MSc., from the Department of Technology and Processing of Polymer Plastics - faced the problem. They created a biodegradable polymer composition intended for the production of packaging, disposable tableware and cutlery, that decompose naturally under the influence of biological factors.

- Our composition consists of a polymer and a plant-based filler. Biodegradable Poly(butylene succinate), which is the matrix of the composition, is mixed with 10% to 50% of ground wheat bran, with grain sizes below 0.2 mm - says Prof. Emil Sasimowski from the Department of Technology and Processing of Polymer Plastics.

Due to the use of bran, which is a by-product of grain milling, the costs of using the developed polymer composition are lower, compared to unfilled biodegradable plastics. Moreover, the presence of bran significantly accelerates the biodegradation process under composting conditions. An additional advantage of the composition is that it can be processed under similar conditions as popular petrochemical plastics and with the use of conventional injection molding machines and extruders used in the processing of polymers.

- After the end of use, the waste from the biodegradable polymer composition can be safely thrown into a "bio" waste container, and go to the local composting plant, becoming a component of another ecological raw material - emphasizes Łukasz Majewski, MSc., from the Department of Technology and Processing of Polymer Plastics.

The invention of the Lublin scientists was appreciated at the Geneva Inventions Exhibition 2022 and iENA 2021, receiving two gold medals.