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Caloocan City Science High School – CCHS Annex

10th Avenue Corner P. Sevilla Steet Caloocan City

Division of City Schools
Caloocan City

Cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica) as an

Effective Component for Biodegradable Plastics

Christine R. Manrique
G – 14
II – Phloem

Submitted to:
Mr. Arturo A. Tolentino

Chapter I
Background of the Study

The researcher have read one article from the internet that says

research has been done on biodegradable plastics and found out that it

can break with exposure to sunlight such as ultra-violet radiation,

water or dampness, bacteria, enzymes, wind abrasion and some

instances like rodent pest or insect attack. The idea of improving the

qualities of biodegradable plastics has been entered to the researcher.

So, the researcher proposed that cogon grass can be an effective

component for ideal biodegradable plastics, since cogon grass is

frequently used by the people and this study will introduce another

important use of cogon grass In the past years, cogon grass was used

to build better and stronger houses but nowadays, people have

forgotten the uses of cogon grass because of cement and hollow


Plastics are indispensable to our modern way of life. Many people

sleep on pillows and mattresses filled with a type of plastic—either

cellular polyurethane or polyester. At night, people sleep under

blankets and bedspreads made of acrylic plastics, and in the morning,

they step out of bed onto polyester and nylon carpets. The cars we

drive, the computers we use, the utensils we cook with, the

recreational equipment we play with, and the houses and buildings we

live and work in all include important plastic components. The average

car contains almost 136 kg (almost 300 lb) of plastics—nearly 12

percent of the vehicle’s overall weight. Telephones, textiles, compact

discs, paints, plumbing fixtures, boats, and furniture are other

domestic products made of plastics. In 1979 the volume of plastics

produced in the United States surpassed the volume of domestically

produced steel.

Plastics possess a wide variety of useful properties and are

relatively inexpensive to produce. They are lighter than many materials

of comparable strength and unlike metals and wood, plastics do not

rust or rot. Most plastics can be produced in any color. They can also

be manufactured as clear as glass, translucent (transmitting small

amounts of light), or opaque (impenetrable to light).

Plastics consist of very long molecules each composed of carbon

atoms linked into chains. One type of plastic, known as polyethylene, is

composed of extremely long molecules that each contain over 200,000

carbon atoms. These long, chainlike molecules give plastics unique

properties and distinguish plastics from materials, such as metals, that

have short, crystalline molecular structures. Although some plastics

are made from plant oils, the majority are made from fossil fuels. Fossil

fuels contain hydrocarbons (compounds containing hydrogen and

carbon), which provide the building blocks for long polymer molecules.
These small building blocks, called monomers, link together to form

long carbon chains called polymers. The process of forming these long

molecules from hydrocarbons is known as polymerization. The

molecules typically form viscous, sticky substances known as resins,

which are used to make plastic products.

Ethylene, for example, is a gaseous hydrocarbon. When it is

subjected to heat, pressure, and certain catalysts (substances used to

enable faster chemical reactions), the ethylene molecules join together

into long, repeating carbon chains. These joined molecules form a

plastic resin known as polyethylene.

Joining identical monomers to make carbon chains is called

addition polymerization, because the process is similar to stringing

many identical beads on a string. Plastics made by addition

polymerization include polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride,

and polystyrene. Joining two or more different monomers of varying

lengths is known as condensation polymerization, because water or

other by-products are eliminated as the polymer forms. Condensation

polymers include nylon (polyamide), polyester, and polyurethane.

Biodegradable plastics are plastics that will decompose in the

natural environment. Biodegradation of plastics can be achieved by

enabling microorganisms in the environment to metabolize the

molecular structure of plastic films to produce an inert humus-like

material that is less harmful to the environment. Under proper

conditions biodegradable plastics can degrade to the point where

microorganisms can metabolise them. This reduces problems with litter

and reduces harmful effects on wildlife. However degradation of

biodegradable plastic occurs very slowly, if at all, in a sealed landfill.

Proper composting methods are required to efficiently degrade the

plastic, which may actually contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.

Degradation of oil-based biodegradable plastics may contribute to

global warming through the release of previously stored carbon as

carbon dioxide. Starch-based bioplastics produced from sustainable

farming methods can be almost carbon neutral. Biodegradable plastics

cannot be mixed with other plastics when sent for recycling; this

damages the recycled plastic and reduces its value.

Cogon grass, Imperata cylindrica (L.), has been ranked as one of

the ten worst weeds of the world. In tropical and subtropical regions

around the globe, this aggressive, rhizomatous perennial is generally

considered a pernicious pest plant due to its ability to successfully

disperse, colonize, spread, and subsequently compete with and

displace desirable vegetation and disrupt ecosystems over a wide

range of environmental conditions. These characteristics and

consequences of cogon grass infestations are similarly evident even

within the native or endemic range in the Eastern Hemisphere, as it

has long been considered one of Southeast Asia’s most noxious weeds
In areas other than closed-canopy forests or plantations, where

cogon grass survives poorly due to shading, and heavily cultivated

lands, where it is kept in check mechanically, infestations are treated

by relatively costly, laborious, and repetitive control measures.

Currently the most effective management strategies in the United

States have involved integrating mechanical, cultural, chemical, and

revegetation methods. For both economical and environmental

reasons, the currently recommended control strategies often are

unacceptable, necessitating consideration of some form of classical

biological control. There are only a few localized benefits of cogon

grass. These include use for thatch, forage, erosion control, paper

making, and bedding material for livestock. There also are minor

traditional uses for human foods and medicines. Silica bodies in the

leaves, razor-like leaf margins, relatively low yields, and very low

nutritive and energy values make cogon grass poor forage

It is very important in our daily life because everyday we

encounter and use plastics to become our every living easier. So, this

study will improve the quality of biodegradable plastics by means of

scientific process involve in biodegradability test.
Statement of the Problem
1. Can cogon grass be an effective component for ideal biodegradable


2. Is there a significant difference between an ordinary plastic and a

newly improved biodegradable plastics using cogon grass?

Significance of the Study

This study will improve the quality of plastics especially

biodegradable plastics. It will introduce the other important uses of

cogon grass except for building houses. It will introduce

biodegradability testing for biodegradable plastics to compare the

quality of plastic between an ordinary plastic and biodegradable plastic

using cogon grass.

Scopes and delimitations

I will only use cogon grass as component of ideal biodegradable

plastics. Only biodegradability test will be demonstrated to test the

strength of the plastic especially biodegradable plastic. Cogon grass

will only be used as a component of plastics and no other materials.

Definition of terms
Plastic resin glue – it is powdered; urea formaldehyde wood glue

activated by mixing a water into it and it forms a bond stronger than

the plastic itself.

Catalysts – the rate of chemical reaction is increased by means of

chemical substance, this process is called catalysis

Biodegradable – is generally an organic material such as plant and

animal matter and other substances that originating from living

organisms or artificial materials that are similar enough to plant and

animal matter to be put into used by microorganisms.

Biodegradable plastics – it is made of plastarch material and

polylactide will compost in an industrial compost facility.

Biodegradation – the process by which organic substances can be

broken down by the enzymes produced by living organisms.

Biodegradability test – this test will measure the strength of a plastic

due to exposure to sunlight such as ultra-violet radiation, water or

dampness, bacteria, enzymes, wind abrasion and some instances like

rodent pest or insect attack.

Polyester - is a category of polymers which contain the ester functional

group in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the

term "polyester" as a specific material most commonly refers to

polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyesters include naturally-

occurring chemicals, such as in the cutin of plant cuticles, as well as

synthetics such as polycarbonate and polybutyrate.

Chapter II

Review of Related Literature

Plastic is the general common term for a wide range of synthetic

or semisynthetic organic solid materials suitable for the manufacture of

industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular

weight, and may contain other substances to improve performance

and/or reduce costs. The common word "plastic" should not be

confused with the technical adjective "plastic", which is applied to any

material which undergoes a permanent change of shape (a "plastic

deformation") when strained beyond a certain point. Aluminum, for

instance, is "plastic" in this sense, but not "a plastic" in the common

sense; while some plastics, in their finished forms, will break before

deforming — and therefore are not "plastic" in the technical sense.

Plastics can be classified by their chemical structure, namely the

molecular units that make up the polymer's backbone and side chains.

Some important groups in these classifications are the acrylics,

polyesters, silicones, polyurethanes, and halogenated plastics. Plastics

can also be classified by the chemical process used in their synthesis,

e.g. as condensation, polyaddition, cross-linking, etc. Other

classifications are based on qualities that are relevant for

manufacturing or product design. Examples of such classes are the

thermoplastic and thermoset, elastomer, structural, biodegradable,

electrically conductive, etc. Plastics can also be ranked by various

physical properties, such as density, tensile strength, glass transition

temperature, resistance to various chemical products, etc. Due to their

relatively low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, and

imperviousness to water, plastics are used in an enormous and

expanding range of products, from paper clips to spaceships. They

have already displaced many traditional materials—such as wood,

stone, horn and bone, leather, paper, metal, glass and ceramic—in
most of their former uses. The use of plastics is constrained chiefly by

their organic chemistry, which seriously limits their hardness, density,

and their ability to resist heat, organic solvents, oxidation, and ionizing

radiation. In particular, most plastics will melt or decompose when

heated to a few hundred Celsius. While plastics can be made

electrically conductive to some extent, they are still no match for

metals like copper or aluminum. Plastics are still too expensive to

replace wood, concrete and ceramic in bulky items like ordinary

buildings, bridges, dams, pavement, railroad ties, etc.

The Process of Making Trees into Plastic

In the process of converting trees to cellulose, little is wasted.

The bark is removed before pulping and is used as fuel for the

conversion process itself. The tree is chipped and then cooked in a

digester to separate cellulose fibers. Lignins and resins produced at

this stage can also be used for other chemical products or as fuel.

The resulting pulp of alpha cellulose and hemicellulose is treated

with various bleaching chemicals to reduce the hemicellulose content

and remove the last traces of lignins and resins. At this stage, the pulp

is clean and white. It is pressed to remove water, then dried and

wound onto rolls. This is the high-quality, high-alpha cellulose used to

manufacture cellulose esters for plastics. Only the highest-quality

pulps are used for Tenite cellulosics

Cogon Grass Cardboard Food Packaging

The feasibility of cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica) as a

substitute for cardboard food packaging was studied in this research

project. The cogon grass was cut, boiled, and crushed in order to get

the pulp. The pulp was then subjected to five different treatments

before it was made into a card board like material. The amount of resin

and other additives was kept constant while the amount of starch was

varied in every treatment.


Nonbiodegradable waste is a major concern everywhere in the

world. The bulk of the world’s waste consists of the hard-to-break-down

products, such as styrofoam. Styrofoam is commonly used as food

containers in fast food restaurants. Because it cannot be recycled, this

particular waste contributes largely to the world’s increasing garbage

problem. To lessen this environmental problem, one logical solution is

to use biodegradable materials or recyclable ones. Paper is being

reconsidered and encouraged for use. This material can be recycled

over and over again. However, trees still need to be cut for paper
production. This spells trouble for the already depleted forests.

Because of this, the researchers thought of another alternative. This

alternative uses cogon grass for making the pulp and the paper. Cogon

grass is found abundantly in many places and is sometimes considered

a nuisance.

Chapter III
Inventions have evolved and continue to evolve such that after

several years of study, research and experimentation reach great

developments. With continuing efforts to investigate the constituents

of Philippine plants, the researcher has pursued investigation of cogon

grass (Imperata cylindrica). Cogon grass were gathered, ground and

squeezed to extract starch. The grass was obtained by weighing and

dividing into three equal parts; 80 grams in T1, T2 and T3.

Treatments also consisted of 60 ml plastic resin glue and resin

with 50 grams of flour catalyst for T1, 100 grams for T2 and 150 grams

in T3. The components in every treatment were mixed, stirred and then

poured in silk screen with oil and then sun-dried. Test for capacity to
carry weight indicated T3 as the best. For its ability to hold water, all

products passed but for biodegradability, T1 gave the best results. The

tensile and bending properties had been tested using the Universal

Testing Machine and Analysis showed that T3 had the greatest tensile

strength while T2 had the greatest bending property. Using ANOVA

single factor, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a collection of statistical models, and their
associated procedures, in which the observed variance is partitioned into components due to different

explanatory variables. The initial techniques of the analysis of variance were developed by the statistician

and geneticist R. A. Fisher in the 1920s and 1930s, and is sometimes known as Fisher's ANOVA or Fisher's

analysis of variance, due to the use of Fisher's F-distribution as part of the test of statistical significance,

results showed that there was significant difference among the three

treatments in bending and tensile strength. The final phase of the

study determined the effectiveness of cogon grass as component of

biodegradable plastic. Results confirmed that cogon grass is ideal as

tests proved its worth.