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Poly(lactic acid) (PLA)-based mulch films: evaluation of mechanical, thermal, barrier properties and aerobic biodegradation characteristics in real-time environment

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The use of biodegradable polymers in agricultural sector has gained considerable interests over the last decade. Biopolymers like polylactic acid (PLA), polybutylene adipate co-terepthalate (PBAT) and its blend with starch have been widely employed in agricultural field to eliminate the difficulties faced during the incineration of petroleum-based polymers like polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP) after use. The biopolymers are more vulnerable to be attacked by microorganisms in the field which also increases their usability. In the current study, blown film of biodegradable aliphatic polyester PLA blended with three different types of thermoplastic starch (TPS): rice starch (RS), corn starch (CS), and potato starch (PS), was taken for on field trials as agricultural mulching films. A comparative account of PLA/TPS blend-based mulching films with the commercially available polyethylene films was undertaken with respect to the performance characteristics on the field. Various tropical plants like banana (Musa acuminate), papaya (Carica papaya), chilli (Capsicum frutescens), brinjal, (Solanummelongena), hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and table rose (Portulacagrandiflora) were taken for study on growth of the plants over six month field trial. Further, post 6-month field trials, the mulching films were evaluated for aerobic biodegradation study under thermophilic conditions to confirm their compostability characteristics.

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The authors thankfully acknowledge the support received from Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Govt. of India, for COE on “Sustainable Bioengineered Green Materials” (Grant number: 25014/2/2015-PC-II).

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Correspondence to Smita Mohanty.

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Parida, M., Shajkumar, A., Mohanty, S. et al. Poly(lactic acid) (PLA)-based mulch films: evaluation of mechanical, thermal, barrier properties and aerobic biodegradation characteristics in real-time environment. Polym. Bull. 80, 3649–3674 (2023).

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