Bio-Degradation of Bio-Plastics under Marine Conditions

Coordinator: Dr. Miriam Weber

Parco Nazionale dell'Arcipelago Toscano and Terme di San Giovanni are gratefully acknowledged for their local support.




EU Project Open-Bio, Part: biological degradation of polymers ("bioplastics") in the Sea

In order to fight plastic pollution of the environment prevention through reduction of its use as well as an intelligent and efficient waste management is mandatory. But also on the material side there is a great potential for improvement. There is already a wide range of products that are termed "degradable", "compostable" or "bio-degradable" but with regard to their performance under marine conditions standards are largely missing. The project "Open-Bio" is co-financed by the European Commission within its 7th framework programme and unites 14 partners from all over Europe. Universities, research institutes, associations, public institutions and private enterprises make a common effort to facilitate the conditions to introduce bio-based materials as substitutes for conventional products. This should be achieved under the best possible transparency on the side of producers as well as of the consumers.
The project part OpenBioElba is led by the HYDRA Institute for Marine Sciences and concentrates on tests of the biological degradability of materials that already have been tested under laboratory standard methods (e.g. for compostability, or in soil). Now we want to extend our knowledge to the degradation under natural conditions in the Sea and in mesocosms.



Hundreds of test strips are fixed in frames and uniquely coded. Pre-test specimen with signs of degradation. Subsampling in the laboratory.


Test set-up in the intertidal of a lagoon. Regular measurement of the environmental parameters.


Porewater sampling and check of the tidal gauge at the experimental set-up. Information panel for the general public (see below).



Regular check and sampling by scientific divers at the field set-up at 40 meters depth.




Information leaflet on the Open-Bio project (09/2014):




Information to the public about our research in intertidal lagoonal conditions:

Info board at the Old Salina in the bay of Portoferraio, Isola d'Elba, Italy