Life Cycle Environmental Impacts of a Biobased Acrylic Polymer for Leather Production

Polymers (Basel). 2023 Mar 6;15(5):1318. doi: 10.3390/polym15051318.


The aim of this paper was to develop a biopolymer based on raw materials not originating from petroleum chemistry to reduce the environmental impact. To this end, an acrylic-based retanning product was designed where part of the fossil-based raw materials was replaced with biomass-derived polysaccharides. Life cycle assessment (LCA) of the new biopolymer and a standard product was conducted to determine the environmental impact. Biodegradability of both products was determined by BOD5/COD ratio measurement. Products were characterized by IR, gel permeation chromatography (GPC), and Carbon-14 content. The new product was experimented as compared to standard fossil-based product, and the main properties of leathers and effluents were assessed. The results showed that the new biopolymer provides the leather with similar organoleptic characteristics, higher biodegradability and better exhaustion. LCA allowed concluding that the new biopolymer reduces the environmental impact of 4 of the 19 impact categories analyzed. A sensitivity analysis was performed where the polysaccharide derivative was replaced with a protein derivative. The analysis concluded that the protein-based biopolymer reduced the environmental impact in 16 of the 19 categories studied. Therefore, the choice of the biopolymer is critical in this type of products, which may or may not reduce the environmental impact.

PMID:36904559 | PMC:PMC10007202 | DOI:10.3390/polym15051318


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