|WOLF, DUANE - University Of Arkansas|
|WARNOCK, MARY - University Of Arkansas|
|GBUR, EDWARD - University Of Arkansas|
|Allen Jr, Hiram|
Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/18/2014
Publication Date: 5/12/2015
Citation: Nam, S., Slopek, R.P., Wolf, D., Warnock, M., Condon, B.D., Sawhney, A.P., Gbur, E., Reynolds, M.L., Allen Jr, H.C. 2015. Comparison of biodegradation of low-weight hydroentangled raw cotton nonwoven fabric and that of commonly used disposable nonwoven fabrics in the aerobic Captina silt loam soil. Textile Research Journal. 86(2):155-166.
Interpretive Summary: A significant and rapidly growing portion of nondurable nonwoven fabrics produced and consumed in the world are wipes used for home, personal care, institutional cleaning and health care among others. The large majority of these wipes will find their way into a landfill at their end of useful life. This fact makes the biodergradability of these fabrics of scientific and practical interest. Because biodegradability is mainly a function of the fibers used to make the fabric, this study examines the soil burial of wipes type nonwoven fabrics composed of various fiber types. Fabrics containing cotton and rayon degrade much more readily than those containing polylactic acid and polypropylene.
Technical Abstract: The increasing use of disposable nonwovens made of petroleum-based materials generates a large amount of non-biodegradable, solid waste in the environment. As an effort to enhance the usage of biodegradable cotton in nonwovens, this study analyzed the biodegradability of mechanically pre-cleaned greige cotton, rayon, polypropylene (PP), and polylactic acid (PLA) low-weight nonwoven fabrics buried in a Captina slit loam soil for 140 days. The biodegradation rates of greige cotton and rayon fabrics were fitted to the first-order kinetics model, by which their half-life values were determined to be 12.4 and 7.4 days, respectively. ATR-FTIR spectra confirmed the slightly faster disintegration of the rayon cellulose as compared to the greige cotton cellulose. During the biodegradation process, cracks and breakage of fibers was prevalent for greige cotton, whereas the thinning and merging of fibers were distinctively observed for rayon. For PLA and PP fabrics, minor evidence of biodegradation was observed in the chemical structure and surface morphology; however, there was neither apparent weight loss nor significant changes in mechanical properties for the entire burial cycle of 140 days. The results suggest that mixing greige cotton or rayon low-weight nonwoven wastes with surface soil would provide an alternative disposal method, but this land application could not be recommended for PLA and PP nonwoven wastes.