Environmentally Friendly Polymers and Polymer Composites
In the last decade, continuous research advances have been observed in the field of environmentally friendly polymers and polymer composites due to the dependence of polymers on fossil fuels and the sustainability issues related to plastic wastes. This research activity has become much more intense in the food packaging industry due to the high volume of waste it generates. Biopolymers are nowadays considered as among the most promising materials to solve these environmental problems. However, they still show inferior performance regarding both processability and end-use application. Blending currently represents a very cost-effective strategy to increase the ductility and impact resistance of biopolymers. Furthermore, different lignocellulosic materials are being explored to be used as reinforcing fillers in polymer matrices for improving the overall properties, lower the environmental impact, and also reduce cost. Moreover, the use of vegetable oils, waste derived liquids, and essential oils opens up novel opportunities as natural plasticizers, reactive compatibilizers or even active additives for the development of new polymer formulations with enhanced performance and improved sustainability profile.