Ecologically derived waste management of conventional plastics
- 92 Downloads
The accumulation of plastic waste is a pressing environmental problem, growing hand-in-hand with the rising production and consumption of consumer products. The robustness and intrinsic strength of plastics, which render them extremely useful in various packaging applications, are a double-edged sword as they are likewise highly resistant to degradation and may persist for several millennia. Conventional waste treatment solutions are increasingly unable to manage the growing volume of such waste, bringing us to the brink of ecological disaster. Interestingly, environmental microorganisms are beginning to evolve their own biological means of thriving within such environments through production of metabolic intermediaries that enable them to utilize plastics as energy sources. Here, we present a brief review of the current literature, highlighting various micro- and multicellular organisms that have been found to degrade plastics, as well as propose some strategies for industrialization of these processes in the future.
KeywordsMicroorganisms Biodegradation Polyethylene terephthalate
The authors are grateful to Entrepreneur First for funding support.
- 1.Plastics Europe (2018) Plastics the facts 2017. https://www.plasticseurope.org/application/files/5715/1717/4180/Plastics_the_facts_2017_FINAL_for_website_one_page.pdf Accessed 26 April 2019
- 3.UNEP (2018) Single-use plastics. https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/report/single-use-plastics-roadmap-sustainability. Accessed 26 April 2019
- 5.World Economic Forum (2016) The New Plastics Economy. https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-new-plastics-economy-rethinking-the-future-of-plastics. Accessed 26 April 2019
- 6.Watson R (2018) Time is running out: The U.S. landfill capacity crisis. Waste business journal. https://nrra.net/sweep/time-is-running-out-the-u-s-landfill-capacity-crisis/ Accessed 15 April 2019
- 7.Mahmud AQ (2018) ‘Cannot sell so they burn’: what’s next in the uncertain future for plastic waste in Singapore? CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/china-bans-plastic-waste-whats-next-for-recycling-in-singapore-10281026 Accessed 14 April 2019
- 8.de Castella T (2011) Tipping point: what happens when our landfills are full? The telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/businessandecology/recycling/8849010/Tipping-point-what-happens-when-our-landfills-are-full.html Accessed 14 April 2019
- 15.Leja K, Lewandowicz G (2010) Polymer biodegradation and biodegradable polymers: a review. Pol J Environ Stud 19:255–266Google Scholar
- 32.Gilan I, Hadar Y, Sivan A (2004) Colonization, biofilm formation and biodegradation of polyethylene by a strain of Rhodococcus ruber. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 65:97–104Google Scholar
- 36.Atiq N, Ahmed S, Ali MI, Andleeb S, Ahmad B, Robson G (2010) Isolation and identification of polystyrene biodegrading bacteria from soil. Afr J Microbiol Res 4:1537–1541Google Scholar
- 40.Sabra S, Zeng AP (2015) Mixed microbial cultures for industrial biotechnology: success, chance, and challenges. In: Grunwald P (ed) Industrial biocatalysis. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 205–237Google Scholar
- 47.World Health Organization (2019) Health Effects of UV Radiation. https://www.who.int/uv/health/uv_health2/en/ Accessed 4 May 2019