Biodegradable, Stretchable and Transparent Plastic Films from Modified Waterborne Polyurethane Dispersions
Waterborne polyurethane dispersions can be designed to generate highly functional and environmentally friendly polymer systems. The use of water as the main dispersion medium is very advantageous for the environment and the introduction of linear and aliphatic polyols such as polyether and polyesters in the formulations can make them highly biocompatible and susceptible to biodegradation. In this study, we fabricated biodegradable, flexible and transparent plastic films by hybridizing a waterborne aliphatic polyester polyurethane (PU) suspension with polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) using mechanical homogenization in water. Films were cast containing different concentrations of PVP. The hybrids containing 50 wt.% PVP (PU/PVP_50/50) were hydrophobic, stretchable, highly transparent and ductile beyond 100% strain compared to highly brittle PVP. The mechanical properties of the PU/PVP_50/50 film remained stable after repeated immersion wet&ndash;dry cycles, each lasting 2 days, and the dried films recovered their mechanical properties after each cycle. Based on a 28-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) test, the hybrid PU/PVP_50/50 film underwent extensive biodegradation. This simple but effective process can be very suitable in producing biodegradable ductile films with very good transparency that can serve a number of applications such as agricultural mulches, food and pharmaceutical packaging and biomedical field.