Composites based on polylactic acid (PLA) and copper for food packaging applications were obtained. Copper clusters were synthesized in polyethylene glycols 400 and 600, respectively, using ascorbic acid as a reducing agent, by reactive milling. Copper clusters were characterized by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR), and Ultraviolet-Visible (UV-VIS) spectroscopy. Copper/PLA composites containing Proviplast as plasticizer were characterized by FT-IR spectroscopy, mechanical tests, Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), absorption of the saline solution, contact angle, and antibacterial properties. It was observed that the concentration of Copper/PEG influenced the investigated properties. The mechanical properties of the samples decreased with the increasing of Copper/PEG concentration. We recorded the phase transformation temperatures and identified the exothermic or endothermic processes. The lowest absorption values were recorded in the case of the sample containing 1% Cu. The contact angle decreases with the increase in the concentration of the PEG 600-Cu mixture in the recipes. The increase in the content of Cu clusters favors the decrease in the temperature, taking place 15% wt mass losses. The obtained composites showed antibacterial properties for all tested strains. These materials could be used as alternative materials for obtaining biodegradable food packaging.
Keywords: antimicrobial properties; copper; food packaging; mechanical properties.