Degradation of Green Polyethylene by Pleurotus ostreatus.

Research paper by José Maria Rodrigues JM da Luz, Sirlaine Albino SA Paes, Karla Veloso Gonçalves KV Ribeiro, Igor Rodrigues IR Mendes, Maria Catarina Megumi MC Kasuya

Indexed on: 16 Jun '15Published on: 16 Jun '15Published in: PloS one


We studied the biodegradation of green polyethylene (GP) by Pleurotus ostreatus. The GP was developed from renewable raw materials to help to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. However, little information regarding the biodegradation of GP discarded in the environment is available. P. ostreatus is a lignocellulolytic fungus that has been used in bioremediation processes for agroindustrial residues, pollutants, and recalcitrant compounds. Recently, we showed the potential of this fungus to degrade oxo-biodegradable polyethylene. GP plastic bags were exposed to sunlight for up to 120 days to induce the initial photodegradation of the polymers. After this period, no cracks, pits, or new functional groups in the structure of GP were observed. Fragments of these bags were used as the substrate for the growth of P. ostreatus. After 30 d of incubation, physical and chemical alterations in the structure of GP were observed. We conclude that the exposure of GP to sunlight and its subsequent incubation in the presence of P. ostreatus can decrease the half-life of GP and facilitate the mineralization of these polymers.