Today more than 99% of plastics are petroleum-based because of the availability and cost of the raw material. The durability of disposed plastics contributes to the environmental problems as waste and their persistence in the environment causes deleterious effects on the ecosystem. Environmental pollution awareness and the demand for green technology have drawn considerable attention of both academia and industry into biodegradable polymers. In this regard green chemistry technology has the potential to provide solution to this issue. Enzymatic grafting has recently been the focus of green chemistry technologies due to the growing environmental concerns, legal restrictions, and increasing availability of scientific knowledge.
Over the last several years, research covering various applications of robust enzymes like laccases and lipases has been increased rapidly, particularly in the field of polymer science, to graft multi-functional materials of interest. In principle, enzyme-assisted grafting may modify/impart a variety of functionalities to the grafted composites which individual materials fail to demonstrate on their own. The modified polymers through grafting have a bright future and their development is practically boundless.
In the present study series of graft composites with poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (P(3HB) as side chain and cellulose as a backbone polymer were successfully synthesised by introducing enzymatic grafting technique where laccase and lipase were used as model catalysts [1-3]. Subsequently, the resulting composites were removed from the casting surface under ambient environment and characterised by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) in detail. Moreover, the thermo-mechanical behaviours of the grafted composites were investigated by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and dynamic mechanical analyser (DMA) measurements, respectively. In addition, hydrophobic and hydrophilic characteristics of the grafted polymers were studied through drop contour analysis using water contact angle (WCA).
In comparison to the individual counterparts improvement was observed in the thermo- mechanical properties of the composites to varied extent. The tensile strength, elongation at break, and Young’s modulus values of the composites reached their highest levels in comparison to the films prepared with pure P(3HB) only which was too fragile to measure any of the above said characteristics. Interestingly, untreated P(3HB) was hydrophobic in nature and after lipase treatment P(3HB) and P(3HB)-EC-based graft composite attained higher level of hydrophilicity. This is a desired characteristic that enhances the biocompatibility of the materials for proper cell adhesion and proliferation therefore suggesting potential candidates for tissue engineering/bio-medical type applications . The present research will be a first step in the biopolymer modification. To date no report has been found in literature explaining the laccase/lipase assisted grafting of P(3HB) [1-3]. The newly grafted composites exhibit unique functionalities with wider range of potential applications in bio-plastics, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics industries, tissue engineering, and biosensors.
 H.M.N. Iqbal, G. Kyazze, T. Tron and T. Keshavarz, Cellulose 21, 3613-3621 (2014).
 H.M.N. Iqbal, G. Kyazze, T. Tron and T. Keshavarz, Carbohydrate Polymers 113, 131-137 (2014).
 H.M.N. Iqbal, G. Kyazze, T. Tron and T. Keshavarz, Polymer Chemistry In-Press, DOI: 10.1039/C4PY0 0857J (2014).