A practical tool for the assessment of polymer biodegradability in marine environments guides the development of truly biodegradable plastics
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER: http://hdl.handle.net/11093/4664
EDITED VERSION: https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4360/15/4/974
UNESCO SUBJECT: 2510.01 Oceanografía Biológica ; 2510.02 Oceanografía Química ; 3308 Ingeniería y Tecnología del Medio Ambiente ; 2401.06 Ecología Animal
DOCUMENT TYPE: article
Environmental persistence is one of the few shortcomings of plastic materials. As a consequence, alternative plastics labeled as compostable are replacing polyolefins in some commercial applications, such as food bags and trash bags. A rapid, high-throughput, and environmentally relevant method to assess the potential biodegradability in marine conditions is used to assess these materials already on the market, as well as novel bio-based polymers still in development. By fitting experimental data to a non-linear logistic model, ultimate biodegradability can be calculated without regard for incubation time. Whereas the commercial products show negligible or very low marine biodegradability, one of the novel materials exceeds the 20% biodegradation threshold relative to fully marine biodegradable PHB after 28 days. In addition, the sensitivity of the method can be enhanced and its duration reduced, at the expense of labor-demanding preconditioning of the microbial inoculum, by increasing the bacterial density in the incubation vessels. In contrast, pre-exposure of the inoculum to plastic, either in laboratory or field conditions, does not enhance the performance of the test.
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