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Advances in Materials Science and Engineering
Volume 2016, Article ID 6909283, 7 pages
Research Article

Measuring the Biodegradability of Plastic Polymers in Olive-Mill Waste Compost with an Experimental Apparatus

1Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto per i Sistemi Agricoli e Forestali del Mediterraneo, Via Madonna Alta 128, 06128 Perugia, Italy
2Chair of Production and Logistics, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

Received 18 August 2016; Accepted 18 October 2016

Academic Editor: Peter Chang

Copyright © 2016 Francesco Castellani et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The use of biodegradable polymers is spreading in agriculture to replace those materials derived from petroleum, thus reducing the environmental concerns. However, to issue a significant assessment, biodegradation rate must be measured in case-specific standardized conditions. In accordance with ISO 14855-1, we designed and used an experimental apparatus to evaluate the biodegradation rate of three biopolymers based on renewable resources, two poly(-caprolactone) (PCL) composites, and a compatibilized polylactic acid and polybutyrate (PLA/PBAT) blend. Biodegradation tests were carried out under composting condition using mature olive-mill waste (OMW) compost as inoculum. Carbon dioxide emissions were automatically recorded by infrared gas detectors and also trapped in saturated Ba(OH)2 solution and evaluated via a standard titration method to check the results. Some of the samples reached more than 80% biodegradation in less than 20 days. Both the experimental apparatus and the OMW compost showed to be suitable for the cases studied.