【 Science 】 Biodegradable plastic packaging materials and their applications

  • 2022-08-07

According to raw material sources, biodegradable plastics are petrochemical based biodegradable plastics and biodegradable plastics, the former with coal, oil, natural gas raw materials production, The main diacid dialcohol copolyester series (including PBAT, PBS, PBSA), polycaprolactone (PCL), polyglycolic acid (PGA), polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and CO2 copolymer (PPC), etc. The latter is produced from biomass raw materials, mainly polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyfatty acid ester (PHA), starch based materials, cellulose materials and so on.

1. Bio-based biodegradable plastics

Biodegradable plastics of natural polymer materials

The natural polymer raw materials of biodegradable plastics come from plants and animals. The plant sources include starch, cellulose, lignin and their derivatives, and the animal sources include gelatin, chitin, prion acetylated chitin, chitosan and its derivatives. It is the main method to prepare biodegradable plastics of natural polymer materials by modifying natural polymer materials to make them have thermal plasticity.

Celluloid, made from digested cellulose in the 18th century, was one of the earliest examples of plastics made from natural polymers.


The raw material of PLA is lactic acid, which is mainly synthesized from biomass resources such as corn starch. It is a representative of bio-based biodegradable plastics.

There are three main ways to synthesize PLA: first, direct condensation of lactic acid; Second, lactide is synthesized from lactic acid and then catalyzed by ring-opening polymerization. The third is solid phase polymerization. The second route is the main synthesis route of PLA in China.


PHA is a polyhydroxyfatty acid ester, as a new type of thermoplastic which can be completely biodegradable, has biocompatibility, biodegradability and animal edible.
PHA is a large family of materials, more than 150 different monomer structures have been discovered, but only a few of them have been actually produced on a large scale. At present, foreign PHA production enterprises mainly include Japan Kaneka company, Brazil Biocycle company and Germany Biomers company. There are Ningbo Tianan Biological Materials Co., LTD., Tianjin Guoyun Biological Technology Co., LTD.

2, petrochemical based biodegradable plastics

Diacid dialcohol copolyester

Diacid dialcohol copolyesters include polybutylene adipate/terephthalate (PBAT), polybutylene succinate (PBS), polybutylene succinate - butylene adipate (PBSA). Although PBS and PBSA were developed earlier, their market consumption is lower than PBAT due to their own performance limitations. At present, PBAT is the main product in global production.

Domestic enterprises that produce PBAT mainly include Guangzhou Jinfa Technology, Shandong Huiying New Material, Shandong Yuetai, Xinjiang Lanshan Tunhe Polyester Co., LTD., Jinhui Zhaolong High-tech Co., LTD., Hangzhou Yifan Xinfu Pharmaceutical Co., LTD.

Carbon dioxide copolymer (PPC), Polycaprolactone (PCL)

Other petrochemical based biodegradable plastics include PPC, PCL and so on.

3. Application field

According to the application field, the main uses of biodegradable plastics are textile fiber, packaging, agriculture, forestry, fishery and animal husbandry, automobile, 3D additive, etc.

The textile fiber

The current production capacity of Chinese PLA fiber is about 15kt/year, which has the advantages of both natural fiber and synthetic fiber, and because of excellent core absorption, its products have the characteristics of good resilience, strong pendency and high comfort.

Daily use film, bag

Biodegradable plastic film bags are mainly PBAT, and most of them are blended with PLA and other materials. After processing, they have been applied in domestic garbage bags, plastic shopping bags, daily plastic bags and so on, and also in fresh packaging films. In addition, PLA bidirectional stretch film used as cling film has excellent preservation effect on vegetables and fruits.

Sheet and its thermoformed products

After the hot forming process, PLA extrusion sheet has been applied in the packaging of fresh food, salad and food, such as transparent fruit box and egg box.

Agricultural mulch

In Xinjiang, Gansu, Hubei, Yunnan and other provinces and cities, the demonstration amount of biodegradable mulching film has been more than 100,000 mu per year. The main production enterprises of biodegradable plastic film include Jinfa Technology Co., LTD., Hangzhou Xinfu Technology Co., LTD.

Foam products

PLA foamed products have been used in many fresh and vegetable packaging dishes and boxes in supermarkets. Starch based plastics and PLA foam buffer materials are used in the packaging of electrical and electronic machines and precision machinery.

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