Study: PBG-PLA blends are less brittle, degrade faster in industrial composting

AFM image (3D height) of 15% PBG + 85% PLA, from UGA New Materials Institute.
AFM image (3D height) of 15% PBG + 85% PLA, courtesy of the Locklin Group at the UGA New Materials Institute.

Manufacturers that utilize polylactic acid (PLA) in products and packaging are well aware of the polymer’s drawbacks, including brittleness and slow degradation at end-of-life. Researchers the University of Georgia’s New Materials Institute have found a way to overcome these negatives of working with PLA, by blending the material with cost-effective poly(butylene glutarate) (PBG). The results of their new study offer manufacturers an alternative to utilizing petroleum-based additives that also improves upon the mechanical properties of PLA, and the PBG-PLA blends degrade at a faster rate in an industrial composting setting.