Degradation of Polylactic Acid (PLA) Plastic in Costa Rican Soil and Iowa State University Compost Rows
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In this study the degradation of polylactic acid (PLA) plastic films in Costa Rican soil and in a leaf composting environment was investigated. Three types of PLA films were used: Ch-I, (PLA monolayer plastic films from Chronopol, Golden, CO), GII (PLA trilayer plastic films from Cargill Dow Polymers LLC, Minnetonka, MN), and Ca-I (PLA monolayer plastic films from Cargill Dow Polymers LLC). The average soil temperature and moisture content in Costa Rica were 27°C and 80%, respectively. The average degradation rate of PLA plastic films in the soil of the banana field was 7675 Mw/week. Two compost rows were set up at the Iowa State University (ISU) (Ames) compost site. Temperature and relative humidity of the compost rows were kept at 55 ± 5°C and 50 ± 10% RH, respectively. The degradation rates of GII and Ca-I in the compost rows were 113,290 and 71,283 Mw/week, respectively. Therefore, it was estimated that in Costa Rican soil and in compost rows, PLA would be visibly degraded in 6 months and in 3 weeks, respectively.
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