Plastic Waste: Environmental Hazards, Its Biodegradation, and Challenges

  • Kadapakkam Nandabalan Yogalakshmi
  • Sukhman Singh


Plastics have become an indispensable part of the society. Lightweight, easy handling, durability, flexibility, resistance to water, and other microbial attacks have made them ubiquitously popular. The extensive use of the long-lived polymer has confronted the environment with a challenging plastic pollution problem. Plastics are the product of coal, natural gas, crude oil, cellulose, and salt manufactured through energy-intensive technology. From cradle to grave, plastics affect the environment in a multifaceted way. The hazardous and ecologically (terrestrial and marine) damaging threats necessitate its removal from the environment. Incineration, landfilling, recycling, and degradation are the four most available options to manage the plastic waste. However, to avoid long-term environmental damage, degradation of plastic is the most preferred option among the management options. Plastic degradation is carried out by photodegradation, thermooxidative degradation, hydrolytic degradation, and biodegradation. Among them, microbial degradation using bacteria and fungi is an emerging strategy to manage plastic waste. Hence, this chapter highlights the benefits, concerns, and threats surrounding the use of plastics. The different perspectives covered in this chapter include plastic production and plastic waste generation, environmental and health effects of plastic pollution, plastic waste management options, biodegradation of plastic polymers and the mechanism involved, biodegradable plastics, and challenges and constraints of plastic waste biodegradation.


Plastics Environmental effects Polymers Biodegradation Biopolymers 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kadapakkam Nandabalan Yogalakshmi
    • 1
  • Sukhman Singh
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Science and Technology, School of Environment and Earth SciencesCentral University of PunjabBathindaIndia

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