Without polymers, modern life would be impossible because polymers ensure a high quality of life and act as a pacemaker for modern technologies. Every year, hundreds of millions of tons of polymers are produced from oil in petrochemical complexes.
Many of these polymers remain in landfills for years and pose significant health risks to the natural ecosystem in the environment. However, normal human life is unimaginable without these polymers in the 21st century.
A solution for this problem is the use of green (degradable) polymers. These polymers have a major advantage that they degrade over time.
The purpose of using green and degradable polymers is green economy, reducing the demand for energy resources, minimizing waste, preventing pollution and environmental hazards, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, optimizing production processes and creating effective waste recycling.
There are synthetic or natural green polymers that have few commonalities between them such as structure and properties and are widely used in various industries such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture and packaging.
Green polymers are divided based on their nature and origin. Polyesters are one of the most important groups of green polymers. Polyesters can be synthesized by several methods, including direct condensation of alcohols and acids, ring-opening polymerization (ROP), and metal-catalyzed polymerization reactions.
One of the most common polymers for packaging purposes is polyethylene acid, PLA. PLA or polylactide (also known as polylactic acid, lactic acid polymer) is a commercial, biodegradable thermoplastic based on lactic acid.
PLA is used for a variety of films, packaging and containers (including bottles and glasses). Lactic acid monomers can be produced from 100% renewable sources such as corn and sugar beets. A significant effort has been made to replace petrochemical materials with materials made from biodegradable components.