Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 259–267 | Cite as

Biodegradability and Biodegradation of Polyesters

  • Yutaka TokiwaEmail author
  • Buenaventurada P. Calabia
Original paper


A variety of biodegradable plastics have been developed in order to obtain useful materials that do not cause harm to the environment. Among the biodegradable plastics, aliphatic polyesters such as: poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL), poly(butylene succinate) (PBS), and poly(l-lactide) (PLA) have become the focus of interest because of their inherent biodegradability. However, before their widespread applications, comprehensive studies on the biodegradability and biodegradation mechanisms of these polyesters are necessary. Thus, this paper describes the degradation mechanisms and the effects of various factors on the degradation of polyesters. The distribution of polymer-degrading microorganisms in the environment, different microorganisms and enzymes involved in the degradation of various polyesters are also discussed.


Aliphatic polyesters Biodegradability Enzymatic degradation Microbial degradation Renewable resources 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)TsukubaJapan

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