A comprehensive review on microbial degradation of plastic waste


  • Sahni Kumar Shri venkateshwara university, Gajraula Dist. J.P Nagar, Uttar Pradesh
  • U. V. S. Teotia Shri venkateshwara university, Gajraula Dist. J.P Nagar, Uttar Pradesh
  • Yogendra Singh Zydus Cadilla Ltd, Baddi, Himachal Pradesh


biodegradation, bio-based plastics, enzymatic degradation, microbial degradation


Plastic is a broad name given to different polymers with high molecular weight, which can be degraded by various processes. However, considering their abundance in the environment and their specificity in attacking plastics, biodegradation of plastics by microorganisms and enzymes seems to be the most effective process. When plastics are used as substrates for microorganisms, evaluation of their biodegradability should not only be based on their chemical structure, but also on their physical properties (melting point, glass transition temperature, crystallinity, storage modulus etc.). In this review, microbial and enzymatic biodegradation of plastics and some factors that affect their biodegradability are discussed. Plastics have become an important part of modern life and are used in different sectors of applications like packaging, building materials, consumer products and much more. Each year about 100 million tons of plastics are produced worldwide. Degradation is defined as reduction in the molecular weight of the polymer. The Degradation types are (a). Chain end degradation/de-polymerization (b).Random degradation/reverse of the poly condensation process. Biodegradation is defined as reduction in the molecular weight by naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes. That is involved in the degradation of both natural and synthetic plastics.


Download data is not yet available.


Fukushima K, Tabuani D, Abbate C, Arena M, Ferreri L. Effect of sepiolite on the biodegradation of poly(lactic acid) and polycaprolactone. Polymer Degradation and Stability. 2010;95(10):2049-56.

Cadar O, Paul M, Roman C, Miclean M, Majdik C. Biodegradation behaviour of poly(lactic acid) and (lactic acid-ethylene glycol-malonic or succinic acid) copolymers under controlled composting conditions in a laboratory test system. Polymer Degradation and Stability. 2012;97(3):354-7.

Eubeler JP, Bernhard M, Knepper TP. Environmental biodegradation of synthetic polymers II. Biodegradation of different polymer groups. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry. 2010;29(1):84-100.

Oprea S, Doroftei F. Biodegradation of polyurethane acrylate with acrylated epoxidized soybean oil blend elastomers by Chaetomium globosum. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation. 2011;65(3):533-8.

Rosa DS, Lotto NT, Lopes DR, Guedes CGF. The use of roughness for evaluating the biodegradation of poly-β-(hydroxybutyrate) and poly-β-(hydroxybutyrate-co-β-valerate). Polymer Testing. 2004;23(1):3-8.

Carrier M, Serani AL, Absalon C, Aymonier C, Mench M. Degradation pathways of holocellulose, lignin and a-cellulose from Pteris vittata fronds in sub- and super critical conditions. Biomass Bioenergy. 2012;43.

Azevedo HS, Reis RL. Understanding the enzymatic degradation of biodegradable polymers and strategies to control their degradation rate Biodegradable systems in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2005.

Simoes M, Simões LC, Vieira MJ. A review of current and emergent biofilm control strategies. LWT-Food Sci Technol. 2010;43.

Chandra R, Rustgi R. Biodegradable polymers. Perg. 1998;23.

Nowak B, Pająk J, Drozd-Bratkowicz M, Rymarz G. Microorganisms participating in the biodegradation of modified polyethylene films in different soils under laboratory conditions. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation. 2011;65(6):757-67.

Pometto AL, Lee B, Johnson KE. Production of an extracellular polyethylene-degrading enzyme(s) by Streptomyces species. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1992;58.

Kessler F, Marconatto L, Rodrigues RdSB, Lando GA, Schrank A, Vainstein MH, et al. Biodegradation improvement of poly(3-hydroxy-butyrate) films by entomopathogenic fungi and UV-assisted surface functionalization. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology. 2014;130(0):57-67.

Koutny M, Lemaire J, Delort A-M. Biodegradation of polyethylene films with prooxidant additives. Chemosphere. 2006;64(8):1243-52.

Muhammad AI, Perveen Q, Ahmad B, Javed I, Razi-Ul-Hussnain R, Andleeb S, et al. Studies on Biodegradation of Cellulose Blended Polyvinyl Chloride Films. International Journal Of Agriculture and Biology. 2009(09):175.

Gautam N, Kaur I. Soil burial biodegradation studies of starch grafted polyethylene and identification of Rhizobium meliloti therefrom Journal of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology. 2013;5(6):147-58.

Esmaeili A, Pourbabaee AA, Alikhani HA, Shabani F, Esmaeili E. Biodegradation of Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) by Mixed Culture of Lysinibacillus xylanilyticus and Aspergillus niger in Soil. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(9):e71720.

Witt U, Müller R-J, Deckwer W-D. Biodegradation behavior and material properties of aliphatic/aromatic polyesters of commercial importance. Journal of environmental polymer degradation. 1997 1997/04/01;5(2):81-9.

Kundu D, Hazra C, Chatterjee A, Chaudhari A, Mishra S. Biopolymer and biosurfactant-graft-calcium sulfate/ polystyrene nanocomposites: Thermophysical, mechanical and biodegradation studies. Polymer Degradation and Stability. 2014;107(0):37-52.

Volova TG, Boyandin AN, Vasiliev AD, Karpov VA, Prudnikova SV, Mishukova OV, et al. Biodegradation of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) in tropical coastal waters and identification of PHA-degrading bacteria. Polymer Degradation and Stability. 2010;95(12):2350-9.

Zhang W, Cheng X, Liu X, Xiang M. Genome studies on nematophagous and entomogenous fungi in China. J Fungi. 2016;2.



How to Cite

Kumar, S., Teotia, U. V. S., & Singh, Y. (2017). A comprehensive review on microbial degradation of plastic waste. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Research, 5(4), 08-12. Retrieved from https://japtronline.com/index.php/joapr/article/view/91