Biodegradable Mulch Films (BMFs) offer a sustainable alternative to traditional non-degradable PE mulch films. However, their slow rate of biodegradation can lead to plastics accumulation in the soil. In this study, a commercially available BMF based on polybutylene adipate co-terephthalate (PBAT) and polylactic acid (PLA) is examined. Here the effects of gliding arc plasma treatment on the bulk and surface properties, as well as its soil degradation behavior, is studied. An increase in surface oxygen containing species and hydrophilicity was observed following plasma treatment. Only a small hydrophobic recovery was noted over 30 days. No changes in the bulk polymer molecular weight or thermal properties following treatment were noted. However, a decrease in mechanical strength was observed following gliding arc plasma treatment. The onset of soil biodegradation occurred earlier for a plasma treated film and we attribute this to an improvement in the initial adhesion of bacteria on the surface.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mulch mats--Biodegradation; Biodegradable plastics; Plasma chemistry--Industrial applications

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Rui Li

Advisor/Committee Member

Carlos Diaz-Acosta

Advisor/Committee Member

Sarilyn Ivancic


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes