2024 journal article

Aquatic Aerobic Biodegradation of Commonly Flushed Materials in Aerobic Wastewater Treatment Plant Solids, Seawater, and Lakewater

BIORESOURCES, 19(1), 1150–1164.

author keywords: Biodegradation; Sustainability; Cellulose; Microfibers
UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
6. Clean Water and Sanitation (OpenAlex)
Source: Web Of Science
Added: April 1, 2024

Microfibers and microplastics originating from wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents are significant pollutants in freshwater sources and marine environments. This research investigated the biodegradation of cotton microfibers generated from bleached cotton jersey knit fabric and commercially available flushable wipes, polypropylene-based (PP) nonwoven wipes containing a cellulose component, and tissue paper. Biodegradation was tested in wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) solids, seawater, and lakewater according to the ISO 14852 and ASTM D6691 standard methods in an ECHO respirometer. Degradation experiments continued until a plateau in CO2 emissions was reached, and the final biodegradation extent was calculated relative to the theoretical CO2 produced based on elemental analysis. The results showed that the cotton and other cellulosic materials/components biodegrade to a great extent, as expected for all conditions, whereas the PP did not degrade. In general, for the cellulose polypropylene composite wipes, the cellulose biodegraded readily; the presence of the PP did not hinder the cellulose biodegradation.