Hydrothermal Carbonization as a Process to Facilitate the Disposal of Bioplastics
Marchelli, Filippo
Ischia, Giulia
Calvi, Marco
Fiori, Luca

How to Cite

Marchelli F., Ischia G., Calvi M., Fiori L., 2023, Hydrothermal Carbonization as a Process to Facilitate the Disposal of Bioplastics, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 99, 79-84.


Bioplastics are steadily replacing fossil-based plastics due to their renewable origin and biodegradability. However, their end-of-life can be problematic: they are often collected with the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) but can be not satisfactorily biodegradable in plants that treat it, leading to their rejection at the entrance. This work focuses on five different commercial bioplastics employed in the eyewear industry: two based on cellulose acetate, one on galalithe, one on corn starch and one on polyamide. The aim was to assess their treatability via hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), which was never reported in the literature for these materials. Under HTC at 180 and 220 °C for 1 h, four of the tested bioplastics show significant degrees of degradation, leading to the formation of different solid and liquid products, which were respectively characterised according to their elemental composition and pH. The interesting different behaviours may be ascribed to the different compositions and structures of the materials. HTC appears as a viable route to facilitate the degradation of these recalcitrant materials and may be followed by a material recovery or an energetic valorisation through anaerobic digestion or thermochemical pathways, depending on the purity of the waste stream.