Utilization of kitchen waste for production of pullulan to develop biodegradable plastic

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Pullulan has many useful characteristics but, its high cost limits its potential applications. In the present work, kitchen waste (KW), which otherwise has zero commercial value, was evaluated for the economical production of pullulan. Before fermentation, the KW was hydrolyzed into free sugars using an in-house produced cocktail of enzymes. During hydrolysis, 46 ± 3.5 g/l and 31 ± 2.2 g/l of total reducing sugars and glucose were released, respectively. Hydrolyzed kitchen waste was then used as substrate for fermentation by Aureobasidium pullulans MTCC 2013 yielding 20.46 ± 2.01 g/l pullulan. Further, effect of different nitrogen sources was evaluated and yeast extract (3%) was found to be the best, yielding (24.77 ± 1.06 g/l) exopolysaccharide (EPS). The pullulan produced from KW was characterized in terms of organoleptic properties, physical strength, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and H nuclear magnetic resonance (H NMR) analysis. The results corroborated well with commercial pullulan. The biodegradable nature and water solubility of the film developed from pullulan was also confirmed. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the validation of the biodegradability of in-house produced pullulan. Thus, kitchen waste appears to be a promising option for economical pullulan production. Additionally, the method may also prove to be helpful for managing the increasing load of municipal solid waste in an eco-friendly and scientific way.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge Assistant Professor Gargi Ghoshal, University Institute of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, for the help provided by her in an experimental procedure in the study. We also acknowledge Ms. Shania Vij for providing secretarial assistance and Mr. Abhishek Thakur for helping in the collection of the kitchen waste. The authors also acknowledge Sophisticated Analytical Instrumentation Facility (SAIF), Panjab University, Chandigarh, India, for providing assistance in performing FTIR and H NMR.

Author information

SKS and SS conceived and designed the study. VR, AKS, and JS performed the experiments. SKS, AK, and SS analyzed the data. AK and VR drafted the manuscript. SKS, AK, and SS read and approved the final manuscript.

Correspondence to Sanjay Sharma or Sanjeev Kumar Soni.

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Rishi, V., Sandhu, A.K., Kaur, A. et al. Utilization of kitchen waste for production of pullulan to develop biodegradable plastic. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 104, 1307–1317 (2020).

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  • Aureobasidium pullulans
  • Enzymatic hydrolysis
  • Exopolysaccharide (EPS)
  • Kitchen waste
  • Pullulan