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Article

Degradation of Plastics in Simulated Landfill Conditions

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Tecnológico Nacional de México/Instituto Tecnológico de Toluca, Av. Tecnológico S/N Col. Agrícola Bellavista, Metepec, Edo de México C.P. 52149, Mexico
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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
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Departamento de Energía, Unidad Azcapotzalco, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Av. San Pablo 180, Col. Reynosa Tamaulipas, Azcapotzalco, Ciudad de México C.P. 02200, Mexico
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Magdalena Krystyjan
Polymers 2021, 13(7), 1014; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13071014
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. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13071014

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. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13071014

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. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13071014

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