Preparation and Characterization of New Bioplastics Based on Polybutylene Succinate (PBS)
Sea and environmental pollution due to microplastics are global problems that in recent years have attracted particular interest in the scientific community. The increase in the world population and the consequent consumerism of non-reusable materials are amplifying these problems. In this manuscript, we present novel bioplastics, which are completely biodegradable, for their potential use in food packaging, to replace fossil-fuel-derived plastic films and slow food degradation due to oxidative processes or microbial contamination. In this study, thin films based on polybutylene succinate (PBS) were prepared to reduce pollution, and different percentages by weight (1, 2 and 3 wt%) of extra virgin olive oil (EVO) and coconut oil (CO) were included to improve the chemico-physical properties of the polymer and possibly improve the functionality of the films in terms of prolonged food preservation. Attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR/FTIR) spectroscopy was used to evaluate the interactions between the polymer and the oil. Furthermore, the mechanical properties and thermal behavior of the films were evaluated as a function of the oil content. A scanning electron microscopy (SEM) micrograph showed the surface morphology and the thickness of the materials. Finally, apple and kiwi were selected for a food-contact test, and the wrapped sliced fruit was monitored and evaluated for 12 days to macroscopically evaluate the oxidative process and/or eventually occurring contamination. The films were shown to reduce the browning of sliced fruit due to oxidation, and no molds were evidenced up to 10/12 days of observation with the addition of PBS, with 3 wt% of EVO achieving the best outcomes.