Comparative biodegradation of HDPE and LDPE using an indigenously developed microbial consortium

Alok Satlewal, Ravindra Soni, Mgh Zaidi, Yogesh Shouche, Reeta Goel
Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 2008, 18 (3): 477-82
A variety of bacterial strains were isolated from waste disposal sites of Uttaranchal, India, and some from artificially developed soil beds containing maleic anhydride, glucose, and small pieces of polyethylene. Primary screening of isolates was done based on their ability to utilize high- and low-density polyethylenes (HDPE/LDPE) as a primary carbon source. Thereafter, a consortium was developed using potential strains. Furthermore, a biodegradation assay was carried out in 500-ml flasks containing minimal broth (250 ml) and HDPE/ LDPE at 5 mg/ml concentration. After incubation for two weeks, degraded samples were recovered through filtration and subsequent evaporation. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and simultaneous thermogravimetric-differential thermogravimetry-differential thermal analysis TG-DTG-DTA) were used to analyze these samples. Results showed that consortium-treated HDPE (considered to be more inert relative to LDPE) was degraded to a greater extent 22.41% weight loss) in comparison with LDPE (21.70% weight loss), whereas, in the case of untreated samples, weight loss was more for LDPE than HDPE (4.5% and 2.5%, respectively) at 400 degrees . Therefore, this study suggests that polyethylene could be degraded by utilizing microbial consortia in an eco-friendly manner.

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