Manufacturing fit-for-purpose paper packaging containers with controlled biodegradation rate by optimizing addition of natural fillers
Natural fillers were utilized for manufacturing horticultural packaging products. Five types of pots produced from waste paper with wheat and rye bran additions were compared with commercially available containers. The aim was to examine the influence of soil type on the degradation rate and kinetics. Pots were degraded in three soil types: agriculture, forest and sandy soils and were monitored after 2, 4 and 8 weeks. NIR spectroscopy was used for non-destructive evaluation of the chemical composition of the investigated papers in addition to typically used standard methods. All tested configurations of papers might be used for manufacturing of plantable bio-containers that will slowly disintegrate during their use. The addition of cereal bran improves mechanical properties of the paper and extends the lifespan of pots. The rate and extent of decomposition depends mainly on the degradation time and type of soil. Paper pots in all tested configurations degraded most quickly in agricultural and forest soils, each stimulating growth of microorganisms responsible for the decomposition of paper. The obtained results allow selection of products with optimal composition for specific applications and to design the packaging containers degradation time in various in-field scenarios. The manufacturing approach proposed increases the positive footprint of packaging products by designing ‘‘eco-effective’’ solutions according to the Cradle to Cradle design framework.