January 31, 2022

Comparing the Biodegradation of Plastic to Alternatives

CIRT Co-Founder Dr. Jenna Jambeck has conducted research studying Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate) (poly(3HB-co-3HHx)) thermoplastics as an alternative to traditional plastics. The research measured biodegradation under anaerobic conditions and aerobic seawater conditions. Gaseous carbon loss and microbial diversity was measured under both experimental conditions  to compare characteristics of each’s materials  biodegradation. To read the full article, click here.

Figure 1: Illustrates the emission of carbon after the biodegradation of Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate) (poly(3HB-co-3HHx)) thermoplastics in both anaerobic and aerobic conditions. Under anaerobic conditions, the biodegradation levels of a manufactured sheet of poly(3HB-co-3HHx) and cellulose powder were not significantly different from one another over 85 days with 77.1 ± 6.1 and 62.9 ± 19.7% of the carbon converted to gas, respectively. However, the sheet of poly(3HB-co-3HHx) had significantly higher methane yield (p ≤ 0.05), 483.8 ± 35.2 mL·g–1 volatile solid (VS), compared to cellulose controls, 290.1 ± 92.7 mL·g–1 VS, which is attributed to a greater total carbon content.