94348 - Chemistry of Plastic Material and Sustainable Development

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Teaching and Communication of Natural Sciences (cod. 5704)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student is able to evaluate the environmental sustainability and of a polymeric material, he is able to design its extraction/synthesis from a renewable resource, to evaluate its possible applications and disposal. The student has the tools to understand and communicate the impact of a polymeric material with the environment during its life. Moreover, the student has gained the tools to understand the structure-property correlations in polymeric materials and he is able to predict its physical and chemical properties on the basis of its molecular structure, thus to understand its impact on the society.

Course contents

The course is divided in four parts: (i) environmental impacts of plastics; (ii) principles of polymer chemistry and physics; (iii) bioplastics, definitions and certifications; (iv) classes of bioplastics.

Part I: environmental impacts of plastics. The forst part ofthe course provides basics concepts of polymers, their applications and describes the polymers largely employed in everyday life. It deals with the impacts of plastics on the society, by describing both thier benefits and the environmental isseus derived from their unsustainable use, with a focus on polymers derived by non-renwable resurces, thier healty impacts and plastics in the oceans. Moreover, the corse provides the concepts of sustainable development, circulary economy, bio-economy and life cycle assesment.

Part II: principles of polymer chemistry and physics. The second part of the course provides basic concepts of:

- monomers and polymers, nomenclature and classification.

Solid-state properties: amorphous and semicrystalline polymers, glass transition temperature and melting temperature, mechanical properties.

- polymer processing and additives.

Part III: bioplastics, definitions and certifications. the following aspects are considered:

- Definition of polymer form renewable resource and methods to define the amount of biobased content.

Biorefinery: production of monomers, building blocks and polymers

Polymer disposal and recycling: mechanical, chemical and biological recycling and incineration.

Biodegradation and composting (definition, mechanism)

Part IV: classes of bioplastics. in the last part of the course commercial bioplastics are taken into account, such as: cellulose, starch, polyhydroxyalkanoates, polylactic acid, aliphatic-aromatic polyesters, bio-PE and bio-PET.

During the coursescentific papers and journal articles will be critically discussed.


The teaching materials (book chapters, papers, ppt presentations) will be provided by the teacher.

Teaching methods

Lectures with the aid of projector.

Assessment methods

Learning assessment is based on an oral examination at the end of the course. The oral examination will last around 30 minutes and aims at evaluating the theoretical knowledge acquired during the course, the possession of a correct technical language and the understanding of the covered topics.

Teaching tools

Lectures with the aid of PC, projector.

Office hours

See the website of Chiara Gualandi


Industry, innovation and infrastructure Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.