With levels of plastic pollution in the environment rising, the need for new plastic waste disposal strategies is becoming more prevalent. This work investigated the ability of marine bacteria to biodegrade a common plastic; poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET). Samples of bacteria were provided with PET as a sole nutrient source, and the effects on the polymer surfaces were traced. Biodegradation had little effect on the chemistry of the polymer, however the surface roughness was found to decrease. Addition of trace elements, pre-treatment of the polymer with surfactants and modification of the surface structure are three promising strategies for enhancing the biodegradation.
Copyright © 2012 Hayden Webb.
Submitted in total fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Swinburne University of Technology, 2012.