Are biodegradable plastics an environmental rip off?

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Title: Are biodegradable plastics an environmental rip off?
Authors: Viera, João S.C. | Marques, Mônica R.C. | Nazareth, Monick Cruz | Jimenez, Paula Christine | Sanz-Lázaro, Carlos | Castro, Ítalo Braga
Research Group/s: Gestión de Ecosistemas y de la Biodiversidad (GEB) | Bioquímica Aplicada/Applied Biochemistry (AppBiochem)
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Ecología
Keywords: Bioplastic | Technical standards | Pollution | Marine debris | Contamination
Knowledge Area: Ecología
Issue Date: 15-Aug-2021
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Journal of Hazardous Materials. 2021, 416: 125957.
Abstract: While the use of biodegradable polymers is recognized as a global strategy to minimize plastic pollution, the technical standards (TS) used to attest their biodegradability may not be in compliance with most environmental parameters observed aquatic ecosystems. Indeed, through a careful assessment of the TS currently in use, this study evidenced that these guidelines cover only a fraction of the biogeochemical parameters seen in nature and largely disregard those that occur in the deep-sea. Thus, these TS may not be able to ensure the degradation of such polymers in natural environments, where microbial activity, pH, temperature, salinity, UV radiation and pressure are highly variable. This raises environmental concern, since relevant parcel of plastic ends up in the oceans reaching deep zones. Therefore, there is an urgent need to revise these TS, which must consider the actual fate of most plastic debris and include assessments under the challenging conditions found at these types of environment, alongside microplastic formation and ecotoxicology effects. Moreover, the next generation of biodegradability tests must be designed to enable a cost-effective implementation and incorporate accurate analytical techniques to assess polymer transformation. Furthermore, certification should provide information on time scale and degradation rates and, preferably, be globally harmonized.
Sponsor: This research was support by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP n. 2019/13750-4). I.B. Castro (PQ 302713/2018-2) and M.R.C. Marques (PQ 304295/2018-3) were recipient of research productivity fellowship from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq). M.C. Nazareth was sponsored by Coordenação Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES / Finance code: 001).
ISSN: 0304-3894 (Print) | 1873-3336 (Online)
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125957
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © 2021 Elsevier B.V.
Peer Review: si
Publisher version:
Appears in Collections:INV - AppBiochem - Artículos de Revistas
INV - GEB - Artículos de Revistas

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