125 days in, our experiment reveals more unexpected discoveries

Midway through our “biodegradable plastics breakdown” experiment, more significant findings have come to light.

This pilot study, which has been running at Akvariet i Bergen (Bergen Aquarium) since Summer 2021 and led by NORCE scientist Gunhild Bødtker, aims to find out how long it takes for specific kinds of biodegradable plastics to break down fully in a marine environment similar to the sea near Bergen in Norway. In addition, Dr Bødtker is comparing how fast the materials biodegrade on the floor of the tank compared to materials floating freely in the tank.

 

The latest results reveal three significant findings. Firstly, the Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) variant of biodegradable plastics has biodegraded much faster than expected. Secondly, the positive control material, which was made from cellulose, has completely disappeared. This indicates a healthy presence of microorganisms contributing to the biodegradation of these types of material in Norwegian sea water. Thirdly, the results so far indicate that water temperature isn’t as essential to biodegradation rates in seawater as previously thought.

Gunhild Bødtker elaborates on these latest results in an interview with the Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub.

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