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Biodegradation of oil-based plastics in the environment: Existing knowledge and needs of research and innovation

Raddadi, Noura, Fava, Fabio
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.679 pp. 148-158
European Union, biodegradability, biodegradation, freshwater, marine environment, microorganisms, monitoring, plastics, poly(vinyl chloride), polypropylenes, polystyrenes, wastes
The production of synthetic oil-based plastics has led to the accumulation of huge amounts of the plastic waste in the environment, especially in the marine system, very often the final sink for many types of conventional wasted plastics. In particular, (micro)plastics account for the majority of litter items in the marine environment and a high percentage of such litter is originating from land sources. Attempts to mitigate the harmful effects of conventional plastics such as the development of novel management strategies together with the gradual substitution of them with biodegradable (bio)plastics are representing future solutions. However, high amounts of conventional plastics have been accumulating in the environment since several years. Although many studies reported on their potential biodegradation by microbes in and from terrestrial environments, very little is known about the biodegradability of these plastics in freshwater systems and only recently more reports on their biodegradation by marine microorganisms/in marine environment were made available.In this review, we first provide a summary of the approaches applied for monitoring and assessing conventional plastics biodegradation under defined conditions. Then, we reviewed historical and recent findings related to biodegradation of four major plastics produced in European Union (EU), i.e. Polyethylene, Polyvinyl Chloride, Polypropylene and Polystyrene, in terrestrial and aquatic environments and by pure and mixed microbial cultures obtained from them.