The use of bio-based additives (lignin, starch and cellulose) in thermoplastic polyuretane formulations to enhance the biodegradability of footwear components Conference Paper uri icon


  • Thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) are one of the most widely used polymeric materials. They can be used in an extensive range of applications, including automotive, footwear, interior design, adhesives, coatings, textile and biomedical. In what concerns the footwear sector, it is estimated that TPU based components represent about 60% of the whole European production of footwear components [1]. On the other hand, the use of a wide variety of additives in TPU formulations (e.g. pigments, coatings and fillers) limits the possibility of recycling. In such scenario, biodegradable polymers could offer an excellent solution to the environment hazard posed by the conventional materials [2]. Therefore, given the widespread use of TPUs and associated waste management problems, it makes sense to invest on the development of more biodegradable and environmental compatible solutions. For this purpose, the incorporation of bio-based and biodegradable additives is being studied in the last years [2-4]. The incorporation of a biodegradable compound, even at a low content in a TPU formulation, can promote biodegradation. It will constitute a preferential site for microorganisms’ attack thus favouring biodegradation initiation and progression. In this work, a base TPU used in the footwear industry was modified by compounding with three biobased additives (lignin, starch and cellulose). Biodegradability of the resulting materials was evaluated in agar plate tests against the fungi Aspergillus niger ATCC16404, the gram negative bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC9027 and an association of both (consortium). In a second phase soil tests have been also performed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015