Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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THERMOPLASTIC POLYMER COMPOSITIONS from Tannery Waste

Biodegradable plasticsProtein hydrolysateRecyclingTannery wasteTanning industry

Introduction

New thermoplastic polymeric compositions useful for the production, by hot extrusion, of biodegradable, compostable products and packaging, having at the same time performances and costs comparable to materials obtained with traditional non-biodegradable thermoplastic polymeric, such as polyolefins. The composition is based on the synthetic polymer polycaprolactone (PCL), which in itself is biodegradable, which can be used in a mixture with a protein hydrolysate material derived from leather fleshing/shaving operations in the tanning industry, to obtain a new thermoplastic polymeric product, which can be hot-processed by extrusion or filming procedures that are known to produce a wide range of products.

Technical features

The products produced proved to be completely biodegradable, compostable and with performance and costs comparable to traditional thermoplastic polymer materials based on non-biodegradable polymers. Advantageously, the two components of the new composition, namely polycaprolactone and protein hydrolyzate, have shown a surprising mutual compatibility without the addition of any compatibilizing additive, giving rise to a composition with a high heat workability, much greater for example than the workability of the only polycaprolactone, to produce completely homogeneous products and films with high mechanical resistance. The protein hydrolyzate used is also a hydrolyzate of animal collagen from waste from the tanning industry, or from waste and / or by-products of other industrial processes, which until now had limited possibilities for use or recycling.

Possible Applications

  • Tanning and chemicals sector;
  • Production of polymeric materials: with the process of preparing the patented composition and its use in 3D printers, various types of articles can be obtained, such as semi-finished products in the form of pellets, thin films, films for packaging in general, tubes, wires, bags, or bottles.

Advantages

  • Production of innovative and sustainable polymers;
  • Excellent mechanical and thermal properties of the solid products obtained;
  • New biodegradable materials;
  • Environmental sustainability of the tanning production cycle;
  • Integration of production chains (tanning, chemicals, …).