Comparative Investigation on the Soil Burial Degradation Behaviour of Polymer Films for Agriculture before and after Photo-Oxidation
Polymer films based on biodegradable polymers, polyethylene (PE) and modified PE with oxo-degradable additive were prepared by film blowing. Carbon black (1%) was added to all the films. Commercial biodegradable Ecovio&reg; and Mater-Bi&reg; samples were used. Mechanical properties, soil burial degradation and surface wettability were investigated, before and after UV irradiation. Chemical modifications induced by UV and soil degradation, or a synergic effect, were highlighted by Attenuated Total Reflection-Fourier Transform Infra-Red (ATR-FTIR). Photo-oxidized film samples with an elongation at break equal to 50% and 0.5 the initial value were selected for the soil burial degradation test at 30 &deg;C. Weight loss measurements were used to follow biodegradation in soil. Predictably, the degradation in soil was higher for biodegradable polymer-based films than for the PE-based ones. UV irradiation increased surface wettability and encouraged the disintegration in soil of all the samples. In fact, photo-oxidation produced a molar mass reduction and hydrophilic end groups, thus increasing surface erosion and weight loss. This paper not only supplies new criteria to evaluate the performance of biodegradable films in agriculture, before and after lifetime, but also provides a comparative analysis on the soil burial degradation behaviour with traditional ones.