Biodegradability of chitin- and chitosan-containing films in soil environment

  • Ibrahim Makarios-Laham
  • Tung-Ching Lee


The biodegradation of polyethylene-chitin (PE-chitin) and polyethylene-chitosan (PE-chitosan) films, containing 10% by weight chitin or chitosan, by pure microbial cultures and in a soil environment was studied. Three soil-inhabited organsims,Serratia marcescens, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, andBeauveria bassiana were able to utilize chitin and chitosan in prepared PE-chitin and PE-chitosan films after eight weeks of incubation at 25°C in a basal medium containing no source of carbon or nitrogen. In a soil environment, the biodegradation of those films was studied and compared with a commercial biodegradable film containing 6% by the weight of corn starch. In soil placed in the lab, 73.4% of the chitosan and 84.7% of the chitin in the films were degraded, while 46.5% of the starch in the commercial film was degraded after six months of incubation. In an open field, 100% of the chitin and 100% of the chitosan in the films were degraded, but only 85% of the starch in the commercial film was degraded after six months of incubation. The weight of controls, (polyethylene films), remained mainly stable during the incubation period. Both PE-chitin and PE-chitosan films degraded at a higher rate than the commercial starch-based film in a soil environment indicating the potential use of chitin-based films for the manufacturing of biodegradable packaging materials.

Key words

Biodegradation chitin chitosan film soil 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ibrahim Makarios-Laham
    • 1
  • Tung-Ching Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food Science, the Center for Advanced Food Technology, and the Institute of Marine and Coastal SciencesRutgers UniversityNew Brunswick

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