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Title: Release of micro- and nanoparticles from biodegradable plastic during in situ composting

Abstract

Plastic is ubiquitous in modern life, but most conventional plastic is non-biodegradable and accumulates as waste after use. Biodegradable plastic is a promising alternative to conventional plastic. However, biodegradable plastics must be thoroughly evaluated to ensure that they undergo complete degradation and have no adverse impact on the environment. We evaluated the degradation of biodegradable plastics during 18-week full-scale composting, and determined whether additives from the plastics are released upon degradation. Two biodegradable plastic films—one containing polybutylene co-adipate co-terephthalate (PBAT) and the other containing polylactic acid/poly-hydroxy-alkanoate (PLA/PHA)—were placed into meshbags and buried in the compost. Degradation was assessed by image analysis, scanning electron microscopy, Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy, electrophoretic mobility, d13C isotope analyses, and single particle mass spectrometry of mulch fragments. The results showed >99% macroscopic degradation of PLA/PHA and 97% for PBAT film. Polymers in the biodegradable films degraded; however, micro- and nanoparticles, most likely carbon black, were observed on the meshbags. Overall, biodegradable plastics hold promise, but the release of micro- and nanoparticles from biodegradable plastic upon degradation warrants additional investigation and calls for longer field testing to ensure that either complete biodegradation occurs or that no long-term harm to the environment is caused.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2];  [2];  [2];  [1]; ORCiD logo [3];  [3];  [1]
  1. Washington State University
  2. University of Tennessee
  3. BATTELLE (PACIFIC NW LAB)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1530732
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-135461
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Science of the Total Environment
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 675
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Sintim, Henry Y., Bary, Andy I., Hayes, Douglas G., English, Marie, Schaeffer, Sean M., Miles, Carol A., Zelenyuk-Imre, Alla, Suski, Kaitlyn J., and Flury, Markus. Release of micro- and nanoparticles from biodegradable plastic during in situ composting. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.179.
Sintim, Henry Y., Bary, Andy I., Hayes, Douglas G., English, Marie, Schaeffer, Sean M., Miles, Carol A., Zelenyuk-Imre, Alla, Suski, Kaitlyn J., & Flury, Markus. Release of micro- and nanoparticles from biodegradable plastic during in situ composting. United States. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.179.
Sintim, Henry Y., Bary, Andy I., Hayes, Douglas G., English, Marie, Schaeffer, Sean M., Miles, Carol A., Zelenyuk-Imre, Alla, Suski, Kaitlyn J., and Flury, Markus. Sat . "Release of micro- and nanoparticles from biodegradable plastic during in situ composting". United States. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.179.
@article{osti_1530732,
title = {Release of micro- and nanoparticles from biodegradable plastic during in situ composting},
author = {Sintim, Henry Y. and Bary, Andy I. and Hayes, Douglas G. and English, Marie and Schaeffer, Sean M. and Miles, Carol A. and Zelenyuk-Imre, Alla and Suski, Kaitlyn J. and Flury, Markus},
abstractNote = {Plastic is ubiquitous in modern life, but most conventional plastic is non-biodegradable and accumulates as waste after use. Biodegradable plastic is a promising alternative to conventional plastic. However, biodegradable plastics must be thoroughly evaluated to ensure that they undergo complete degradation and have no adverse impact on the environment. We evaluated the degradation of biodegradable plastics during 18-week full-scale composting, and determined whether additives from the plastics are released upon degradation. Two biodegradable plastic films—one containing polybutylene co-adipate co-terephthalate (PBAT) and the other containing polylactic acid/poly-hydroxy-alkanoate (PLA/PHA)—were placed into meshbags and buried in the compost. Degradation was assessed by image analysis, scanning electron microscopy, Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy, electrophoretic mobility, d13C isotope analyses, and single particle mass spectrometry of mulch fragments. The results showed >99% macroscopic degradation of PLA/PHA and 97% for PBAT film. Polymers in the biodegradable films degraded; however, micro- and nanoparticles, most likely carbon black, were observed on the meshbags. Overall, biodegradable plastics hold promise, but the release of micro- and nanoparticles from biodegradable plastic upon degradation warrants additional investigation and calls for longer field testing to ensure that either complete biodegradation occurs or that no long-term harm to the environment is caused.},
doi = {10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.179},
journal = {Science of the Total Environment},
number = ,
volume = 675,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {7}
}