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Detection and specific chemical identification of submillimeter plastic fragments in complex matrices such as compost

Title data

Steiner, Thomas ; Leitner, Lisa-Cathrin ; Zhang, Yuanhu ; Möller, Julia N. ; Löder, Martin G. J. ; Greiner, Andreas ; Laforsch, Christian ; Freitag, Ruth:
Detection and specific chemical identification of submillimeter plastic fragments in complex matrices such as compost.
In: Scientific Reports. Vol. 14 (2024) . - 2282.
ISSN 2045-2322
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-51185-6

Project information

Project title:
Project's official title
Project's id
SFB 1357 Mikroplastik
391977956

Project financing: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Abstract in another language

Research on the plastic contamination of organic fertilizer (compost) has largely concentrated on particles and fragments > 1 mm. Small, submillimeter microplastic particles may be more hazardous to the environment. However, research on their presence in composts has been impeded by the difficulty to univocally identify small plastic particles in such complex matrices. Here a method is proposed for the analysis of particles between 0.01 and 1.0 mm according to number, size, and polymer type in compost. As a first demonstration of its potential, the method is used to determine large and small microplastic in composts from eight municipal compost producing plants: three simple biowaste composters, four plants processing greenery and cuttings and one two-stage biowaste digester-composter. While polyethylene, PE, tends to dominate among fragments > 1 mm, the microplastic fraction contained more polypropylene, PP. Whereas the contamination with PE/PP microplastic was similar over the investigated composts, only composts prepared from biowaste contained microplastic with a signature of biodegradable plastic, namely poly(butylene adipate co-terephthalate), PBAT. Moreover, in these composts PBAT microplastic tended to form the largest fraction. When the bulk of residual PBAT in the composts was analyzed by chloroform extraction, an inverse correlation between the number of particles > 0.01 mm and the total extracted amount was seen, arguing for breakdown into smaller particles, but not necessarily a mass reduction. PBAT oligomers and monomers as possible substrates for subsequent biodegradation were not found. Remaining microplastic will enter the environment with the composts, where its subsequent degradability depends on the local conditions and is to date largely uninvestigated.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology I
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology I > Chair Animal Ecology I - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christian Laforsch
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Chemistry
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Chemistry > Chair Macromolecular Chemistry II
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Chemistry > Chair Macromolecular Chemistry II > Chair Macromolecular Chemistry II - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Andreas Greiner
Faculties > Faculty of Engineering Science
Faculties > Faculty of Engineering Science > Chair Process Biotechnology
Faculties > Faculty of Engineering Science > Chair Process Biotechnology > Chair Process Biotechnology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ruth Freitag
Research Institutions > Central research institutes > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Research Institutions > Collaborative Research Centers, Research Unit > SFB 1357 - MIKROPLASTIK
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 500 Natural sciences
500 Science > 540 Chemistry
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences, geology
500 Science > 570 Life sciences, biology
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2024 09:22
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 09:22
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/88464