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Journal of King Saud University - Science
Volume 33 (6), 2021, 101538

Plastics degradation by microbes: A sustainable approach

Zeenata, Amina Elahia, Dilara Abbas Bukharib, Saba Shamimc, Abdul Rehmana

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of the Punjab, New Campus, Lahore 54590, Pakistan.


Plastics play an important part in every sector of economy all over the world due to their extensive use in agriculture, building and construction, health and consumer goods. They are the backbone of many industries because they are used in the manufacturing of different products including defense materials, sanitary wares, tiles, plastic bottles, artificial leather and different other household items. Plastics are also used in packaging of food items, pharmaceuticals, detergents, and cosmetics. Excessive use of plastics poses a serious threat to the ecosystem and human life on the planet. Plastics accumulation on land and sea has aroused interest to degrade these polymers. There is a need to use adequate biodegradable methods in order to reduce plastics burden from the environment. In order to overcome plastics associated environmental problems, understanding of the interaction between microbes and polymers is of prime importance. Many living organisms but predominantly microorganisms have evolved strategies to survive and degrade plastics. The present review focuses on the types of plastics on the basis of thermal and biodegradable nature, degradation and biodegradation types, types of degradable plastics, characterization of biodegradation, and factors affecting biodegradation. Plastic degradation and bioremediation potential make these microorganisms propitious for green chemistry to eliminate harmful plastics from the ecosystem.

Keywords: Plastic types, Toxicity, Degradation, Microorganisms, Bioremediation.

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