Development of bio-based materials for packaging, agricultural, and construction applications

X. Zhao
The Ohio State University, United States

Keywords: Bioplastic, Biodegradable, Sustainable

More than 90% of current plastics are petroleum-based and non-biodegradable, and >80% end up in landfills, raising environmental concerns. We have created a new family of bio-based and biodegradable products by value-added use of agricultural and food processing waste streams, as alternatives to petroleum-based plastics prevalent in packaging, agricultural, and construction industries. Poly -3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate (PHBV), a bio-based and compostable polyester, was reactively blended with natural rubber (NR) to improve its flexibility and toughness. PHBV/NR trays had good barrier properties and sealability, suitable for food packaging. Incorporation of fibers from invasive plants and food processing wastes like tomato peels and eggshells can further strengthen PHBV/NR blend and lower costs. The bio-composites can be applied in agriculture, for tree pipes and plant pots, and construction, such as furnishings and insulation foams. Poly-lactic acid (PLA) is bio-based and has good strength but high brittleness, medium barrier properties, and poor film-blowing processability. Films from PLA/NR had improved flexibility, barrier and rheological properties, suitable for packaging and agricultural applications. Bio-based adhesives from domestically-produced, allergen-free guayule NR were proved suitable for packaging lamination, sealing, and labeling of a variety of substrates including plastic, paper, metal, glass, and wood.