Can anaerobic digestion be a suitable end-of-life scenario for biodegradable plastics? A critical review of the current situation, hurdles, and challenges
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Growing concern regarding non-biodegradable plastics and the impact of these materials on the environment has promoted interest in biodegradable plastics. The intensification of separate biowastes collection in most European countries has also contributed to the development of biodegradable plastics, and the subject of their end-of-life is becoming a key issue. To date, there has been relatively little research to evaluate the biodegradability of biodegradable plastics by anaerobic digestion (AD) compared to industrial and home composting. However, anaerobic digestion is a particularly promising strategy for treating biodegradable organic wastes in the context of circular waste management. This critical review aims to provide an in-depth update of anaerobic digestion of biodegradable plastics by providing a summary of the literature regarding process performance, parameters affecting biodegradability, the microorganisms involved, and some of the strategies (e.g., pretreatment, additives, and inoculum acclimation) used to enhance the degradation rate of biodegradable plastics. In addition, a critical section is dedicated to suggestions and recommendations for the development of biodegradable plastics sector and their treatment in anaerobic digestion.