Evaluation of Bioplastics Analysis by Pyrolysis-GC/MS

Analyzing Microplastics in the Environment
Poster Presentation

Prepared by J. Gundersen, R. Burgess, K. Ho
US EPA ORD CEMM ACESD, 27 Tarzwell Dr, NARRAGANSETT, RI, 02882, United States

Contact Information: [email protected]; 401-782-3044


As concern about the impact of conventional, petroleum-based plastics grows, bioplastics (BPs) have emerged as potentially sustainable alternatives. The fate of BPs in the environment remains uncertain and some may breakdown into nano- and micro-plastics forms in a similar manner to petroleum-based plastics. Potential adverse ecological effects of nano- and micro-BPs are not well defined. If they do form nano- or micro-BPs, methods and approaches will be needed to measure and identify these classes of plastics. To evaluate methods for identifying and quantifying BPs in the environment, polylactic acid (PLA), poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and a PHB/PHV (polyhydroxyvalerate) copolymer were analyzed by single shot and double shot pyrolysis-GC/MS methods as solids and in solution. Results indicate that the method of analysis can affect the pyrolyzates formed and may ultimately affect the identification of the biopolymer.