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Biotechnology Advances 26 (2008) 246 – 265

Research review paper

Biological degradation of plastics: A comprehensive review
Aamer Ali Shah ⁎, Fariha Hasan, Abdul Hameed, Safia Ahmed
Department of Microbiology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan Received 22 November 2007; received in revised form 31 December 2007; accepted 31 December 2007 Available online 26 January 2008

Abstract Lack of degradability and the closing of landfill sites as well as growing water and land pollution problems have led to concern about plastics. With the excessive use of plastics and increasing pressure being placed on capacities available for plastic waste disposal, the need for biodegradable plastics and biodegradation of plastic wastes has assumed increasing importance in the last few years. Awareness of the waste problem and its impact on the environment has awakened new interest in the area of degradable polymers. The interest in environmental issues is growing and there are increasing demands to develop material which do not burden the environment significantly. Biodegradation is necessary for water-soluble or water-immiscible polymers because they eventually enter streams which can neither be recycled nor incinerated. It is important to consider the microbial degradation of natural and synthetic polymers in order to understand what is necessary for biodegradation and the mechanisms involved. This requires understanding of the interactions between materials and microorganisms and the biochemical changes involved. Widespread studies on the biodegradation of plastics have been carried out in order to overcome the environmental problems associated with synthetic plastic waste. This paper reviews the current research on the biodegradation of biodegradable and also the conventional…...

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