Plastic Degradation and its Environmental Implications


Plastic Degradation and its Environmental Implications

Manviri Rani, Uma Shanker

Extensive use of non-biodegradable plastic by anthropogenic activities is posing a severe threat to the global environment in the form of massive waste disposal and problems of closed-landfill sites and rising water and land pollution. Organisms are facing challenge to their lives once they consume plastic in the form of food. In addition, the plastic debris may have additive chemicals having possibility to leach out. Therefore, proper degradation of plastic to lessen negative environmental implications is necessary. Earlier the people were ignorant about this problem however, now-a-days, people are serious about its negative impact. Hence, biodegradable plastics are coming into the trend in the market. Interaction of plastic (adsorbing characteristics) with the environment results in new functional groups on its surface in a dynamic situation. In these circumstances, oxygenated, thermal, bio-based, and photocatalytic degradation of plastics is in high demand. Usually, different-rates along with diverse-pathways have been found in variable polymers like polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyethylene terephthalate. Polyethylene photo-degradation resulted in sharp infrared-peaks of ketones, esters, and acids due to oxidation reaction. Hydrogen peroxide is generated by oxidative action on methylene groups in the backbone of polyethylene terephthalate. The present chapter will provide compiled information about various polymers used in plastic as well as environmental concerns of plastic, finally the chapter concludes with comprehensive details about the degradation of various types of plastics. State-of-the-art on degradable plastics market with an emphasis on principle design for recyclable plastics and biodegradable plastics from renewable raw materials are also included. Factors affecting plastic degradation and metabolic pathways including past and present scenarios have also been discussed in this chapter.

Plastic Pollution, Polymer Degradation, Environment Conditions, Biodegradation

Published online 4/1/2021, 35 pages

Citation: Manviri Rani, Uma Shanker, Plastic Degradation and its Environmental Implications, Materials Research Foundations, Vol. 99, pp 290-324, 2021


Part of the book on Degradation of Plastics

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