Biodegradation of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) by isolated fungi in solid waste medium

Sahebnazar Zahra, Shojaosadati Seyed Abbas, Mohammad-Taheri Mahsa, Nosrati Mohsen
Waste Management 2010, 30 (3): 396-401
In this study, biodegradation of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) by isolated landfill-source fungi was evaluated in a controlled solid waste medium. The fungi, including Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus terreus and Fusarium solani, were isolated from samples taken from an aerobic aged municipal landfill in Tehran. These fungi could degrade LDPE via the formation of a biofilm in a submerged medium. In the sterilized solid waste medium, LPDE films were buried for 100 days in a 1-L flask containing 400 g sterile solid waste raw materials at 28 degrees C. Each fungus was added to a separate flask. The moisture content and pH of the media were maintained at the optimal levels for each fungus. Photo-oxidation (25 days under UV-irradiation) was used as a pretreatment of the LDPE samples. The progress of the process was monitored by measurement of total organic carbon (TOC), pH, temperature and moisture. The results obtained from monitoring the process using isolated fungi under sterile conditions indicate that these fungi are able to grow in solid waste medium. The results of FT-IR and SEM analyses show that A. terreus and A. fumigatus, despite the availability of other organic carbon of materials, could utilize LDPE as carbon source. While there has been much research in the field of LDPE biodegradation under solid conditions, this is the first report of degradation of LDPE by A. fumigatus.

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