Monday, February 24, 2020

degradable or not?

As the world is beginning to try and do something against the avalanche of plastic pollution, we are increasingly confronted with packaging that claims to be biodegradable, but is it really? Will it decay if we put it on the compost, if it ends up in landfill, or if some litterbug drops it on a beach? We still have to think quite carefully what biodegradable means and what we should do with this new wastestream. In related news, scientists are looking for microbial and enzymatic helpers to degrade even those plastic materials that are thus far considered not biodegradable, including, most importantly, PET.

Although I have covered the impact of plastic pollution on the biosphere in two previous features, the accelerating crisis as well as the initial, biology-assisted attempts at fixing it have yielded more than enough material for another one, which is out now:

Biology versus plastic pollution

Current Biology Volume 30, Issue 4, 24 February 2020, Pages R135-R137

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Plastic waste is accumulating in ocean gyres and on certain coastlines. (Photo: Adege/Pixabay.)

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