Visible-light driven photodegradation of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) using BiOCl–ZrO2 nanocomposite: A sustainable strategy for mitigating plastic pollution

Samreen Sajad, Bharat Kumar Allam, Mika Sillanpää, Saleh Al-Farraj, Pramod Kumar Singh, Sushmita Banerjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aims to reduce plastic pollution by decomposing low-density polyethylene (LDPE) through an environmentally friendly approach using a novel BiOCl–ZrO2 nanocomposite under visible-light irradiation at room temperature. Visible-light irradiation is a form of clean energy, so we explored the feasibility and prospective solution for plastic waste mitigation by utilizing visible-light to attain sustainable development goal 7 (SDG 7). To fabricate photodegradable LDPE, it was blended with BiOCl nanoparticles (NPs) and its nanocomposite (BiOCl–ZrO2) separately via a facile solution casting method. The fabricated samples were assessed for the degradation of LDPE before and after 24 days of visible-light irradiation at room temperature. The prepared nanocomposites were thoroughly characterized by different analytical techniques, including XRD, FT–IR, XPS, FE–SEM, TGA, BET and UV–Vis DRS. The successful photodegradation of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) using a BiOCl–ZrO2 nanocomposite is supported by the presence of a higher carbonyl index, as evidenced by FT–IR analysis. The field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FE–SEM) analysis unveiled numerous perforations and prominent coarse morphological attributes, suggesting significant decomposition and disintegration of the LDPE film across the active surface sites of BiOCl–ZrO2. The weight reduction of LDPE@BiOCl–ZrO2 (600 ˚C) (10 wt%) composite film reached 48.67% under visible-light irradiation for 24 days at room temperature. The degradation rate exhibited significant sensitivity to variations in the concentration of the BiOCl–ZrO2 nanocomposite within the LDPE film. Investigation of the photodegradation mechanism suggested the formation of a type–II heterojunction–based photocatalytic system. The relatively low bandgap energy of ZrO2 (3.1 eV), facilitates the rapid migration of conduction band electrons to the conduction band of BiOCl. This migration process is facilitated by the favourable energy level alignment between the conduction bands of ZrO2 and BiOCl, enabling efficient electron transfer between the two materials. The large band gap of BiOCl (3.56 eV) permits the movement of valence band holes to the ZrO2 valance band. The spontaneous circulation of charge carriers within the heterostructure crystal maintains the charge separation and defers the recombination rate for an extended period. The photodegraded LDPE fragments are biodegradable and help to reduce plastic pollution. The environmental friendliness of the BiOCl–ZrO2 nanocomposite-assisted plastic waste remediation process was investigated using carbon footprint measurement. A tentative estimation suggested that the remediation process of 100 Kg of plastic waste may contribute to around 0.133 tons of carbon footprint.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101149
JournalNano-Structures and Nano-Objects
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • BiOCl‒ZrO
  • Carbon footprint
  • Low‒density polyethylene
  • Microplastics
  • Photodegradation
  • Plastic waste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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