Bio-based and bio-degradable plastics in soil

Expanding the use of environmentally friendly materials to protect the environment is one of the key factors in maintaining a sustainable ecological balance. Currently, only one percent of the total plastics production are bioplastics, which is bio-based, biodegradable, or features both properties (BBPs). The degradation rate of BBPs depends on the shape, size and type of plastics and the soil ecosystem. Given the complexity of the chemical composition of plastics, their decomposition requires the interactive activity of the appropriate microbial consortia rather than individual taxa.

The input of biodegradable plastic to the soil can serve as an available C source stimulating microbial activity and causing a priming effect, i.e., a change in the decomposition rate of organic carbon stored in soil. Since the BBPs are C-rich and N-depleted, decomposition of stoichiometrically imbalanced plastics with a large C: N ratio in soil might increase the degradation of stored C. Therefore, it is necessary to consider soil priming effect and transformation of organic matter induced by plastic in the studies on BBPs decomposition in soil and water.

Considering a very broad range of bio-based and bio-degradable plastics used in the modern agriculture and numerous plastic degradation pathways by large number of microorganisms there is an urgent need to find efficient ways for plastics identification in the environment, investigate the mechanisms and pathways of plastics transport and decomposition in soil and water and its consequences for carbon stocks and soil health.

Contributing scientists

Evgenia Blagodatskaya
Matthias Schmidt
Hryhoriy Stryhanyk
Nadiia Yamborko


MicroPLUS: Micro- and Meso-Plastics: Identification and Utilization in Soil 2023-2027 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) & International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA))
SOMER 2019-2022 (Islamic Development Bank; PI Evgenia Blagodatskaya. Contributors: Witoon Purahong, Tanunchai B, Vusal Guliyev)


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