Breakdown of plastics and polymers by microorganisms

F Kawai
Advances in Biochemical Engineering/biotechnology 1995, 52: 151-94
The interest in environmental issues is still growing and there are increasing demands to develop materials which do not burden the environment significantly. Awareness of the waste problem and its impact on the environment has awakened new interest in the area of degradable polymers. Biodegradation is necessary for water-soluble or water-miscible polymers because they eventually enter streams which can neither be recycled nor incinerated. It is important to consider the microbial degradation of natural and synthetic polymers in order to understand what is necessary for biodegradation and the mechanisms involved. This requires both biochemical insight and understanding of the interactions between materials and microorganisms. It is now widely requested that polymeric materials come from renewable resources instead of petrochemical sources. The microbial production of polymeric and oligomeric materials is also described.

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