Open Access Short Communication

Polystyrene Biodegradation

Hsiao-Han Liu*

Department of Biological Science and Technology, I-Shou University, Taiwan

Corresponding Author

Received Date:July 19, 2023;  Published Date:July 31, 2023


Polystyrene, a widely used plastic, poses a significant challenge for waste management due to its resistance to natural degradation. This abstract provides a concise overview of polystyrene biodegradation research. Microbial degradation, enzymatic breakdown, and abiotic degradation methods are explored as potential mechanisms. Recent studies have identified microorganisms capable of breaking down polystyrene, and innovative experimental setups have been developed. However, challenges such as environmental considerations and scalability remain. Future research should focus on collaboration between stakeholders to optimize polystyrene biodegradation for sustainable waste management and to mitigate plastic pollution.

Keywords:Polystyrene; Biodegradation; SEM; Turbidity assay

Abbreviations:SEM: Scanning electron microscopy


Plastic pollution has emerged as a global environmental challenge, with polystyrene being a major contributor due to its widespread use and resistance to natural degradation processes [1]. Addressing the issue of polystyrene waste requires effective solutions, and recent advancements in polystyrene biodegradation research hold great promise [2-4]. This short communication aims to provide an overview of polystyrene biodegradation [5], including the mechanisms involved [6], recent studies, challenges, opportunities, and future directions.

Overview of Polystyrene Biodegradation: Biodegradation, the natural breakdown of materials by living organisms, offers a sustainable approach to managing plastic waste. However, the complex structure and inherent resistance of polystyrene pose challenges to its biodegradation. Recent research has focused on exploring microbial degradation [4,5], enzymatic breakdown [7], and abiotic degradation [8] as potential mechanisms for polystyrene biodegradation [9].

Mechanisms of Polystyrene Biodegradation: Microbial degradation of polystyrene involves the discovery of unique microorganisms capable of utilizing this polymer as a carbon source [3]. These microorganisms produce enzymes that facilitate the breakdown of polystyrene chains, leading to the release of simpler organic compounds. Enzymatic breakdown, specifically the action of enzymes like lipases and peroxidases, has shown promise in enhancing polystyrene biodegradation [10]. Additionally, abiotic degradation methods, such as chemical treatments and physical methods, have been explored to accelerate the breakdown of polystyrene [8].

Recent Studies on Polystyrene Biodegradation: Several studies have reported significant advancements in polystyrene biodegradation. Microbial strains, such as Pseudomonas spp. and Bacillus spp., have been identified for their ability to degrade polystyrene [11,12]. Enzymes like cutinizes and laccases have demonstrated their effectiveness in breaking down polystyrene molecules [13]. Moreover, innovative experimental setups and conditions have been developed to optimize biodegradation processes [5,6]. However, the utilization of polystyrene microbeads to discover the degradation of microorganisms was still under exploration by scanning electron microscopy.

Challenges and Opportunities: While polystyrene biodegradation shows promise, it also presents challenges. Environmental considerations and potential risks associated with the release of byproducts during degradation need to be carefully evaluated [14]. Additionally, scalability and feasibility for largescale waste management require further exploration. However, the byproducts of polystyrene biodegradation, such as organic acids and monomers, offer potential applications in the production of value-added products [15].

Future Directions and Outlook: To harness the full potential of polystyrene biodegradation, future research should focus on identifying key areas for improvement and collaboration between scientists, policymakers, and industry stakeholders [16,17]. This multidisciplinary approach can facilitate the development of sustainable waste management practices and the integration of polystyrene biodegradation within a circular economy framework [18,19].

Concluding Remarks

Polystyrene biodegradation holds promise as a viable solution for managing plastic waste. Recent research has shed light on the mechanisms involved, showcased successful biodegradation of polystyrene, and identified areas for further exploration. The challenges of environmental impact, scalability, and feasibility can be addressed through collaborative efforts. By embracing polystyrene biodegradation as a sustainable approach, this will take significant strides towards mitigating the environmental impact of plastic waste and moving towards a more sustainable future.



Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest.


    1. Iroegbu AOC, Suprakas Sinha Ray, Vuyelwa Mbarane, João Carlos Bordado, José Paulo Sardinha (2021) Plastic pollution: a perspective on matters arising: challenges and opportunities. ACS omega 6(30): 19343-19355.
    2. Billen P, Lana Khalifa, Fenno Van Gerven, Serge Tavernier, Sabrina Spatari (2020) Technological application potential of polyethylene and polystyrene biodegradation by macro-organisms such as mealworms and wax moth larvae. Science of the Total Environment 735: 139521.
    3. Ho BT, TK Roberts, S Lucas (2018) An overview on biodegradation of polystyrene and modified polystyrene: the microbial approach. Critical reviews in biotechnology 38(2): 308-320.
    4. Yang Y, Jun Yang, Wei-Min Wu, Jiao Zhao, Yiling Song, et al., (2015) Biodegradation and mineralization of polystyrene by plastic-eating mealworms: Part 1. Chemical and physical characterization and isotopic tests. Environmental science & technology 49(20): 12080-12086.
    5. Tang ZL, TA Kuo, HH Liu (2017) The study of the microbes degraded polystyrene. Adv Technol Innov 2(1).
    6. Lin HH, HH Liu (2021) FTIR analysis of biodegradation of polystyrene by intestinal bacteria isolated from Zophobas morio and Tenebrio molitor. Proceedings of Engineering and Technology Innovation 17: 50-57.
    7. Zhang Y, Jacob Nedergaard Pedersen, Bekir Engin Eser, Zheng Guo (2022) Biodegradation of polyethylene and polystyrene: From microbial deterioration to enzyme discovery. Biotechnology Advances 60: 107991.
    8. Ojeda T, Ana Freitas, Emilene Dalmolin, Marcus Dal Pizzol, Leonardo Vignol, et al., (2009) Abiotic and biotic degradation of oxo-biodegradable foamed polystyrene. Polymer degradation and stability 94(12): 2128-2133.
    9. Hou L, ELW Majumder (2021) Potential for and distribution of enzymatic biodegradation of polystyrene by environmental microorganisms. Materials 14(3): 503.
    10. Chen CC, Longhai Dai, Lixin Ma, Rey-Ting Guo (2020) Enzymatic degradation of plant biomass and synthetic polymers. Nature Reviews Chemistry 4(3): 114-126.
    11. Panarat Arunrattiyakorn, Sirikwan Ponprateep, Nirawan Kaennonsang, Yoktip Charapok, Yotwadee Punphuet, et al., (2022) Biodegradation of polystyrene by three bacterial strains isolated from the gut of Superworms (Zophobas atratus larvae). Journal of Applied Microbiology 132(4): 2823-2831.
    12. Ugueri U, E Atuanya, U Zainab (2022) Biodegradability of polystyrene plastics by bacterial isolates from plastic composted waste soil and molecular characterization of plastic degrading bacterial isolates. African Journal of Microbiology Research 16(6): 247-257.
    13. Temporiti MEE, Lidia Nicola, Erik Nielsen, Solveig Tosi (2022) Fungal enzymes involved in plastics biodegradation. Microorganisms 10(6): 1180.
    14. Taghavi N, Isuru Abeykoon Udugama, Wei-Qin Zhuang, Saeid Baroutian (2021) Challenges in biodegradation of non-degradable thermoplastic waste: From environmental impact to operational readiness. Biotechnology Advances 49: 107731.
    15. Panda AK, RK Singh, D Mishra (2010) Thermolysis of waste plastics to liquid fuel: A suitable method for plastic waste management and manufacture of value added products-A world prospective. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 14(1): 233-248.
    16. Meyer V, Evelina Y Basenko, J Philipp Benz, Gerhard H Braus, Mark X Caddick (2020) Growing a circular economy with fungal biotechnology: a white paper. Fungal biology and biotechnology 7(1): p. 1-23.
    17. da Costa JP (2018) Micro-and nanoplastics in the environment: research and policymaking. Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health 1: 12-16.
    18. Baleta J, Hrvoje Mikulčić, Jiří Jaromír Klemeš, Krzysztof Urbaniec, Neven Duić (2019) Integration of energy, water and environmental systems for a sustainable development. Journal of cleaner production 215: 1424-1436.
    19. Ghosh K, BH Jones (2021) Roadmap to biodegradable plastics-current state and research needs. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 9(18): 6170-6187.
Signup for Newsletter
Scroll to Top