The article concerns the use of glycerolysis reaction as an alternative method of processing post-production and post-consumer waste from poly(lactic acid) (PLA). Management of waste is a very important issue from an environmental protection and economic point of view. Extending the “life cycle” of PLA is extremely important because it allows to make the most of this material. It also limits economic losses resulting from its disposal in the biodegradation process at the same time. This paper presents a method of glycerolysis of poly(lactic acid) waste using various amounts of anhydrous glycerol (mass ratio from 0.3 to 0.5 parts by weight of glycerol per 1.0 part by weight of PLA). This process was also carried out for pure, unmodified PLA Ingeo® (from NatureWorks) to compare the obtained results. The six liquid oligomeric polyhydric alcohols were obtained as a result of the synthesis. Then, they were subjected to physicochemical tests such as determination of color, smell, density, viscosity, and pH. In addition, the obtained raw materials were subjected to analytical tests such as determination of the hydroxyl value, acid value, water content, and elemental composition. The average molecular weights and dispersity were also tested by gel permeation chromatography (GPC). The assumed chemical structure of the obtained compounds was confirmed by spectroscopic methods such as FTIR, 1H NMR, 13C NMR. Glycerolysis products were also subjected to differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) to determine thermal parameters. The obtained research results have allowed the precise characterization of newly obtained products and determination of their suitability, e.g., for the synthesis of polyurethane (PUR) materials.
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