Is a compostable plastic biodegradable in the sea? A rapid standard protocol to test mineralization in marine conditions
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER: http://hdl.handle.net/11093/3515
EDITED VERSION: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0048969722019532
UNESCO SUBJECT: 2510.01 Oceanografía Biológica ; 3308.06 Regeneración del Agua ; 3308.11 Control de la Contaminación del Agua
DOCUMENT TYPE: article
Due to environmental persistence, lack of a proper land-based waste management, and global circulation, marine ecosystems are especially threatened by plastics. The search for alternatives to conventional oil-based polymers gave rise to novel materials commercialized under different “green” labels based on compostability. However, current international standards are not effective in predicting actual biodegradability of plastic objects in natural scenarios, and degradation of these novel bioplastics in marine conditions is unwarranted. We present a simple and rapid standard protocol based on their biological oxygen demand, intended to support policy-makers and plastic industry in the search for truly marine-biodegradable plastics. Improvements include: development of an environmentally relevant nutrient formulation following Redfield ratio (106C:16 N:1P); use of a natural inoculum representative of marine habitats (sediment pore water); standardization of the test material by grinding to particles below 250 μm to shorten the incubation period, and selection of a truly biodegradable biopolymer (PHB), used as positive control. This protocol was successfully applied to show that commercial compostable plastics are not biodegradable in marine environments.
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