Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 28, 2014

Development of a green material for horticulture

Manuel Oliveira, Carlos Mota, Ana S. Abreu and J. Miguel Nobrega


Poly(lactic acid) (PLA), used as a matrix, was mixed with wood fibers, coffee grounds, fertilizer and a foaming agent to develop an ecofriendly material to be used in horticulture. For this application materials should have mechanical properties similar to PLA, increased biodegradability and a lower price than currently used materials. The new materials were prepared by melt processing in an internal mixer at 190°C and were characterized by several techniques. The mechanical properties of the biocomposites, measured by flexural tests, were similar to neat PLA, even with a reduction of 40 wt% of polymer. Biodegradation assessment by composting tests in an aerobic environment demonstrated that the green materials exhibited higher biodegradability than PLA. Biocomposites containing wood fibers and fertilizer were revealed to be the most suitable for horticulture application, as these can combine mechanical properties, biodegradability and fertilizer release. Moreover, this green material has two main advantages: it can be prepared using materials from natural resources, and it does not generate any residue after use.

Corresponding author: Manuel Oliveira, Institute of Polymers and Composites/I3N, Campus de Azurém, 4800-058 Guimarães, Portugal, e-mail:


The authors acknowledge n-STeP Project, NORTE-07-0124-FEDER-000039, supported by the Programa Operacional Regional do Norte (ON.2) and PEst-C/CTM/LA0025/2013 (Strategic Project-LA 25-2013-2014).


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Received: 2014-9-12
Accepted: 2014-9-28
Published Online: 2014-11-28
Published in Print: 2015-5-1

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