Sarah Kakadellis

Thesis title:

Chemical and microbiological characterisation of bioplastics biodegradation within the bioeconomy industrial strategy


Our Blue Planet – or Plastic Planet? The use of plastics is a contentious issue at the heart of our throw-away society. Packaging accounts for the largest application of plastics, with single-use food and drink plastic packaging being one of the most common items found in our oceans. This poses a serious threat to the integrity of our ecosystems while creating an unprecedented waste management problem.The recent years have placed plastic pollution under growing public scrutiny and both industrial and political landscapes have been called upon to propose innovative approaches, including ‘greener’ plastic materials. The biodegradable properties of some plant-based plastics (bioplastics), have been identified as a promising opportunity to address this societal and environmental challenge. They represent a solution for food packaging applications by preserving food without persisting in the environment, particularly marine. However, such bio-based biodegradable alternatives may not necessarily provide an improvement in overall environmental impact and little is known about their biodegradation efficacy in given waste streams.Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, Sarah’s research project will explore bioplastics waste management. It will delve deeper into bioplastics biodegradation and aims to better understand how bioplastics perform in a range of environments. Chemical and microbiological characterisation will provide an insight into the advantages and limitations they may present in the current European industrial strategy context. Ultimately, the focus is on ensuring that their promotion within a bioeconomy framework is based on environmentally-sound evidence.

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First supervisor:

Zoe M_Harris


9 – Political Ecology, Energy & Environmental Health