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Soil Degradation of a Plastic Blend of Opuntia Ficusindica Juice, Animal Protein and Beeswax

  • Gamez, Isabel A
  • Kava, Daniel R
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2022
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Since the introduction of single use plastics in the early 1900s, their usage has increased exponentially. Unfortunately, due to this exponential increase there are negative environmental implications of their production, which requires further consideration. Currently, there are various waste disposal practices for SUPs, including landfilling, incineration, and recycling. Recent data revealed that only 14 % of plastic waste was recycled, with 40% of plastic waste being landfilled, while the rest of the plastic waste was incinerated or released to the environment at 14 % and 32 %, respectively. A potential solution to the plastic waste issue is developing a polymer that can easily biodegrade in the environment. Using this idea, Dr. Sandra Pascoe-Ortiz has produced a cactus-based biopolymer with six different formulations. Each of these contains various amounts of nopal juice, protein, beeswax, and glycerol. This project will investigate how these cactus-based biopolymers will degrade in soil by testing the samples’ physical properties and structure throughout the degradation process. The degradation testing will consist of 28 days in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment. The biopolymer’s mechanical and thermal properties will be monitored using thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, and a scanning electron microscope. Finally, to track the changes in chemical structure throughout degradation, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy was utilized.

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