Microbial colonization and degradation of polyethylene and biodegradable plastic bags in temperate fine-grained organic-rich marine sediments

To date, the longevity of plastic litter at the sea floor is poorly constrained. The present study compares colonization and biodegradation of plastic bags by aerobic and anaerobic benthic microbes in temperate fine-grained organic-rich marine sediments. Samples of polyethylene and biodegradable plastic carrier bags were incubated in natural oxic and anoxic sediments from Eckernförde Bay (Western Baltic Sea) for 98 days. Analyses included (1) microbial colonization rates on the bags, (2) examination of the surface structure, wettability, and chemistry, and (3) mass loss of the samples during incubation. On average, biodegradable plastic bags were colonized five times higher by aerobic and eight times higher by anaerobic microbes than polyethylene bags. Both types of bags showed no sign of biodegradation during this study. Therefore, marine sediment in temperate coastal zones may represent a long-term sink for plastic litter and also supposedly compostable material.

Alice Nauendorf, Stefan Krause, Nikolaus K. Bigalke and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 103, Issues 1–2, Pages 168–178, 15 February 2016

The article

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s