In 2013 alone, 381 million tons of fossil-fuel derived plastics were produced, increasing almost 200-fold from when it was first produced in mass scale. With such a tremendous
increase in demand, low cost of production and high durability along with diverse usage across many different industries has led to the accumulation and mismanagement of
plastic waste, specifically within our environment, globally.
Biopolymers are seen as a viable substitute to fossil-fuel derived plastics owing to their sustainability, but also
carbon neutrality and biodegradability. These properties address the inherent flaws associated with fossil-fuel derived plastics, given the problems faced with their disposal and the environmental consequence they impose.
However, despite extensive research on production of biodegradable plastics, the cost of their production is too high to lend them to large-scale production. The manipulation of communication between microbes is an area that has yet to be explored, in relation to the production of biodegradable
plastics and could potentially help overcome this issue. This project focuses on the manipulation of communication between different types of bacteria (Gram-negative and
Gram-positive) and the possible effects on the production of biodegradable plastics. To be able to quantify the amount of biodegradable plastic produced by the microbes, different techniques have been employed such as Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and Law and Slepecky’s Crotonic acid assay.
With fossil-fuel derived plastics’ dependency on finite resources to be produced such as crude oil, coupled with the potential aim of this project, biodegradable plastics could finally become a type of plastic that is used in mainstream society, replacing fossil-fuel derived plastics over time resulting in less pollution towards our environment and helping to conserve the limited amount of finite resources we have access too.