Degradation Process of Biodegradable Plastics

Degradation Process of Biodegradable Plastics

The degradation process of biodegradable plastics is a crucial aspect in addressing the global issue of plastic pollution. This process involves various methods that effectively break down plastic materials into smaller, environmentally friendly compounds.

1. Physical Degradation
Physical degradation involves mechanical processes such as grinding or shredding to break the plastic into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces can then be recycled and reused to create new products. However, this method alone is not sufficient for complete degradation.

2. Chemical Degradation
Chemical degradation offers more comprehensive breakdown of plastics. This method can be further classified into two types: biodegradation and photodegradation.
Biodegradation: This process utilizes microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, to break down the plastic. These microorganisms secrete enzymes that attack the polymer chains of the plastic, converting them into smaller molecules that can be metabolized. The final products of biodegradation are typically carbon dioxide, water, and biomass.

Photodegradation: Photodegradation involves the use of sunlight to break down plastics. Ultraviolet light from the sun triggers chemical reactions in the plastic, leading to the formation of oxygenated products. However, this process is slower and may not be suitable for all types of plastics.

3. Advanced Degradation Methods
In addition to the traditional methods, there are advanced degradation techniques such as enzymatic degradation and pyrolysis. Enzymatic degradation uses enzymes to catalyze the breakdown of plastics, while pyrolysis involves heating the plastic to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, resulting in the formation of gases, oils, and char.

The degradation process of biodegradable plastics is a complex yet crucial step in reducing plastic waste and its impact on the environment. By utilizing a combination of physical, chemical, and advanced degradation methods, we can effectively break down plastics and convert them into valuable resources.


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