Mounting environmental and legislative pressures for reducing plastics waste are among the factors that have hugely increased demand for biodegradable plastics in the recent past. They now have applications in a diverse range of areas including packaging, medical/surgical applications and leisure. With such an increase in demand it is fortunate that there is a wide selection of polymers available including natural or natural-based polymers like starch, cellulose acetate and microbial polyesters, as well as purely synthetic polymers such as polyvinyl alcohol, polycaprolactone, polyethylene and polyurethanes. The large demand combined with the many different polymers available mean that there are many points to consider including individual degradation mechanisms, maintaining a balance of shelf life versus controlled degradation, testing these factors and then the practical applications of the biodegradation of plastics.
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