Technological watch

Evaluation of Biodegradabilities of Biosynthetic Polyhydroxyalkanoates in Thailand Seawater and Toxicity Assessment of Environmental Safety Levels

Every year, thousands of tons of non-biodegradable plastic products are dumped into marine environments in Thailand’s territorial seawater, impacting various marine animals. Recently, there has been a surge in interest in biodegradable plastics as a solution for aquatic environments. However, in Thailand’s coastal waters, no suitable biodegradable plastic has been used as ocean-biodegradable packaging. Among them, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) have excellent biodegradability even in seawater, which is the desired property for packaging applications in tourist places such as plastic bags and bottles. In this report, we assess the environment’s safety and study the biodegradation in Thailand seawater of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and PHA copolymer (PHBVV) that were successfully synthesized by bacteria with similar molecular weight. The two types of extracted PHA samples were preliminary biodegradability tested in the marine environment compared with cellulose and polyethylene. Within 28 days, PHB and PHBVV could be biodegraded in both natural and synthetic seawater with 61.2 and 96.5%, respectively. Furthermore, we assessed residual toxicity after biodegradation for environmental safety using seawater samples containing residual digested compounds and the standard guide for acute toxicity tests. It was discovered that marine water mites (Artemia franciscana) have 100 percent viability, indicating that they are non-toxic to the marine environment.

Publication date: 21/01/2022

Author: Nuttapol Tanadchangsaeng

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym14030428

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.