Environ Pollut. 2022 Apr 21:119339. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119339. Online ahead of print.
Biodegradation of microplastics (MPs) in contaminated biowastes has received big scientific attention during the past few years. The aim here is to study the impacts of livestock manure biochar (LMBC) on the biodegradation of polyhydroxyalkanoate microplastics (PHA-MPs) during composting, which have not yet been verified. LMBC (10% wt/wt) and PHA-MPs (0.5% wt/wt) were added to a mixture of pristine cow manure and sawdust for composting, whereas a mixture without LMBC served as the control (CK). The maximum degradation rate of PHA-MPs (22-31%) was observed in the thermophilic composting stage in both mixtures. LMBC addition significantly (P < 0.05) promoted PHA-MPs degradation and increased the carbon loss and oxygen loading of PHA-MPs compared to CK. Adding LMBC accelerated the cleavage of C-H bonds and oxidation of PHA-MPs, and increased the O-H, CO and C-O functional groups on MPs. Also, LMBC addition increased the relative abundance of dominant microorganisms (Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Deinococcus-Thermus, Bacteroidetes, Ascomycota and Basidiomycota) and promoted the enrichment of MP-degrading microbial biomarkers (e.g., Bacillus, Thermobacillus, Luteimonas, Chryseolinea, Aspergillus and Mycothermus). LMBC addition further increased the complexity and connectivity between dominant microbial biomarkers and PHA-MPs degradation characteristics, strengthened their positive relationship, thereby accelerated PHA-MPs biodegradation, and mitigated the potential environmental and human health risk. These findings provide a reference point for reducing PHA-MPs in compost and safe recycling of MPs contaminated organic wastes. However, these results should be validated with other composting matrices and conditions.