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Degradation of Plastics in Simulated Landfill Conditions

Tecnológico Nacional de México/Instituto Tecnológico de Toluca, Av. Tecnológico S/N Col. Agrícola Bellavista, Metepec, Edo de México C.P. 52149, Mexico
Sociedad Mexicana de Ciencia y Tecnología Aplicada a Residuos Sólidos, A. C., Priv. Molcajete 44 Fracc. Hacienda de las Fuentes, Calimaya C.P. 52227, Mexico
Departamento de Energía, Unidad Azcapotzalco, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Av. San Pablo 180, Col. Reynosa Tamaulipas, Azcapotzalco, Ciudad de México C.P. 02200, Mexico
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Magdalena Krystyjan
Polymers 2021, 13(7), 1014;
Received: 24 February 2021 / Revised: 19 March 2021 / Accepted: 22 March 2021 / Published: 25 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodegradable and Natural Polymers)
Different degradable plastics have been promoted as a solution for the accumulation of waste in landfills and the natural environment; in Mexico, the most popular options are oxo-degradable, which degrade in a sequential abiotic–biotic process, and compostable plastics. In this research, high-density polyethylene, oxo-degradable high-density polyethylene, and certified compostable plastic were exposed to simulated landfill conditions in an 854-day-long experiment to assess their degradation. High-density polyethylene showed limited degradation, due mainly to surface erosion, evidenced by a 13% decrease in elongation at break. The pro-oxidant additive in the oxo-degradable plastic increased this loss of mechanical properties to 27%. However, both plastic films kept their physical integrity and high molecular weight by the end of the experiment, evidencing degradation but no biodegradation. While the compostable film fragmented, had a lower molecular weight at the end of the experiment, and decreased the presence of C=O bonds, this degradation took place remarkably slower than expected from a composting process. Results show that oxo-degradable and compostable plastics will not biodegrade readily in landfills. This fact should be known and understood for decision-makers to match the characteristics of the materials to the features of the waste management systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: oxo-degradable; polyethylene; biodegradation oxo-degradable; polyethylene; biodegradation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Xochitl, Q.-P.; María del Consuelo, H.-B.; María del Consuelo, M.-S.; Rosa María, E.-V.; Alethia, V.-M. Degradation of Plastics in Simulated Landfill Conditions. Polymers 2021, 13, 1014.

AMA Style

Xochitl Q-P, María del Consuelo H-B, María del Consuelo M-S, Rosa María E-V, Alethia V-M. Degradation of Plastics in Simulated Landfill Conditions. Polymers. 2021; 13(7):1014.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Xochitl, Quecholac-Piña, Hernández-Berriel María del Consuelo, Mañón-Salas María del Consuelo, Espinosa-Valdemar Rosa María, and Vázquez-Morillas Alethia. 2021. "Degradation of Plastics in Simulated Landfill Conditions" Polymers 13, no. 7: 1014.

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