Bioplastics were first introduced as environmentally friendly materials, with properties similar to those of conventional plastics. A bioplastic is defined as biodegradable if it can be decomposed into carbon dioxide under aerobic degradation, or methane and CO2 under anaerobic conditions, inorganic compounds, and new cellular biomass, by the action of naturally occurring microorganisms. This definition however does not provide any information on the environmental conditions, timescale and extent at which decomposition processes should occur. With regard to the aquatic environment, recognized standards have been established to assess the ability of plastics to undergo biodegradation; however, these standards fail to provide clear targets to be met to allow labelling of a bioplastic as biodegradable. Moreover, these standards grant the user an extensive leeway in the choice of process parameters. For these reasons, the comparison of results deriving from different studies is challenging. The authors analysed and discussed the degree of biodegradability of a series of biodegradable bioplastics in aquatic environments (both fresh and salt water) using the results obtained in the laboratory and from on-site testing in the context of different research studies. Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), CO2 evolution, surface erosion and weight loss were the main parameters used by researchers to describe the percentage of biodegradation. The results showed a large variability both in weight loss and BOD, even when evaluating the same type of bioplastics. This confirms the need for a reference range of values to be established with regard to parameters applied in defining the biodegradability of bioplastics.

Biodegradability of bioplastics in different aquatic environments: A systematic review

Lavagnolo, Maria Cristina
;
Poli, Valentina;Grossule, Valentina
2024

Abstract

Bioplastics were first introduced as environmentally friendly materials, with properties similar to those of conventional plastics. A bioplastic is defined as biodegradable if it can be decomposed into carbon dioxide under aerobic degradation, or methane and CO2 under anaerobic conditions, inorganic compounds, and new cellular biomass, by the action of naturally occurring microorganisms. This definition however does not provide any information on the environmental conditions, timescale and extent at which decomposition processes should occur. With regard to the aquatic environment, recognized standards have been established to assess the ability of plastics to undergo biodegradation; however, these standards fail to provide clear targets to be met to allow labelling of a bioplastic as biodegradable. Moreover, these standards grant the user an extensive leeway in the choice of process parameters. For these reasons, the comparison of results deriving from different studies is challenging. The authors analysed and discussed the degree of biodegradability of a series of biodegradable bioplastics in aquatic environments (both fresh and salt water) using the results obtained in the laboratory and from on-site testing in the context of different research studies. Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), CO2 evolution, surface erosion and weight loss were the main parameters used by researchers to describe the percentage of biodegradation. The results showed a large variability both in weight loss and BOD, even when evaluating the same type of bioplastics. This confirms the need for a reference range of values to be established with regard to parameters applied in defining the biodegradability of bioplastics.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3512462
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