Experimental Study on Degradation of Plastics from Municipal Solidwaste

DOI : 10.17577/IJERTCONV4IS25017

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Experimental Study on Degradation of Plastics from Municipal Solidwaste

S. Satheeshkumar1 ME

  1. Dhivakar Karthick2 ME Faculty, Department of Civil Engineering,

    Kongunadu College of Engineering and Technology.

    M. Ramesp BE

    R. Sundari4 BE

    Student, Department of Civil Engineering, Kongunadu College of Engineering and Technology.

    Abstract Around the world, the especially in India one of the most important problem is generation of solid waste and it contains huge quantity of plastics. Plastics will take more than one million year and more for degradation. In some places the solid wastes are burned in the dumping yard it again creates air pollution and it will affect the human beings life as well as the environmental conditions. Plastics have becomes an important part of modern life and are used in different sectors of applications like packing, building materials, consumers products and much more. It affects the human beings as well as environment, so we are planned to degrade the plastics by Biodegradation process by using the Mealworms and super worms. From the byproduct of mealworms and super worms will be useful for the agricultural purpose as the fertilizer.


      One of the major problems being faced by cities and towns related to municipal solid waste (MSW) generation. Current global MSW generation levels are approximately 1.3 billion tons per year, and are expected to increase to approximately

        1. billion tons per year by 2025. This represents a significant increase in per capita waste generation rates, from 1.2 to 1.42 kg per person per day. Main source of municipal solid wastes are collected from municipal, industrial, commercial etc.,

          Plastics are used in packaging of products such as food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, detergents and chemicals. Approximately 30% of plastics are used worldwide for packaging applications and the most widely used plastics used for packaging are polyethylene, polystyrene (PS). At present the industry is split into organized and un organized sectors. The organized sector produce quality products whereas unorganized sector is not capable of producing quality products, it produces low quality, cheap products through excessive use of plastic scrap.


      Plastics are defined as the polymers (solid materials) which on heating become mobile and can be cast into moulds. They are non – metallic moldable compounds and the materials that are made from them can be pushed into any desired shape and sizes (saymour, 1989). Commonly plastics are used in many purposes including packaging, disposable diaper backing, agricultural films and fishing nets. Plastics and their use has become a part in all sectors of economy. Infrastructure such as agriculture, telecommunication, building and construction, consumer goods, packaging, health and medical are all high growth areas that ensures present demand for plastics. Plastic is the mother industry to

      hundreds of components and products that are manufactured and used in our daily life like automobiles parts, electrical goods, plastic furniture, defense materials, agriculture pipes, packages and sanitary wares, pipes and fittings, tiles and flooring, artificial leathers, bottles and jars, PVC shoes and sleepers hundreds of household items.


  1. Madha Suresh and T. Vasantha Kumaran (2003) et al., Proceedings of the International Conference on Environment and Health. University of Madras and Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. Management of burgeoning solid wastes has become a critical issue for almost all the major cities in India. Although the responsibility of solid waste management remains primarily with the municipal bodies, several other stakeholder groups play significant roles in the process.

    In the Indian scenario the so-called waste pickers, who come from highly vulnerable social backgrounds, play a unique role. Waste pickers, scavengers or rag pickers as they are commonly called eke out a living by collecting and selling recyclable materials out of municipal solid wastes. In the process they make a significant contribution to the environmental management in different metropolis over and above rendering a service to the local economy.

    The present paper intends to present a vulnerability study of the rag pickers of Delhi with focus on the socio-economic and occupational health aspects. The paper makes use of a database, parenting to the socio-economic profile of the rag pickers including the working conditions, and their problems and expectations. This database has been developed through literature review, questionnaire survey and open-ended interviews conducted to generate data on rag pickers in Delhi. Further, relevant policies of the Delhi Government have been examined to assess its understanding of the overall role of the waste pickers, and to explore the concerns and commitments of the Government towards them.

    Recommendations have been made to enhance the efficiency of the Government ventures in addressing the basic problems of the waste pickers, associated with deplorable working conditions, poor returns, exploitation and their everyday harassments. Suggestions have been made to improve the design of policy initiatives aimed at integrating waste collection and disposal by incorporating the employment needs of the urban poor and migrants, with adequate attention to the occupational health aspect of these people.


      From previous researches, it is found that the amount of Municipal Solid Waste generated in our country. To reduce the problems caused due to the solid Wastes Especially in plastics. To avoid the environmental and Health effects. To identify the best method for plastics disposal (or) degradation.

    2. SCOPE OF THIS STUDY Some of the main objectives of this project are,

      • To degrade the plastic waste by biologically.

      • To protect environmental health from plastic waste.

      • To avoid the issue caused by the disposal of plastic waste like incineration and dumping.

      • The end product obtained from the Bio- degradation process is used in various agricultural field.


      It is any of a group of synthetic or natural organic materials that may be reshaped when soft and then hardened, including many of resins, resioniods, casein materials and proteins: used in a place of other materials, in construction and decoration, for making many articles.

      Types of plastics

          • Thermoplastic

          • Polyethylene

            • Low density polyethylene

            • High density polyethylene

          • Acrylic

          • Polyvinyl chloride

          • Polystyrene

          • Nylon

          • Polypropylene

          • Thermo setting plastic

          • Melamine formaldehyde

          • Phenolic

          • Urea formaldehyde

          • Epoxies

          • Polyesters


      A polymer that softens and melts gradually when heated and it can be reshaped when still warm. Polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene & polyvinyl chloride (PVC) most common thermoplastics. Any object made from thermoplastic can be remolded into a new shape.

      Thermoplastics creep considerably more than thermosets, particularly at higher temperature can be used for light structural properties

      Polyethylene Polystyrene

      Thermosetting plastics

      A polymer that cant be reshaped fter manufacture. Most popular thermosets are unsaturated polyester, epoxides, phenol-formaldehyde and polyurethane. Polyester used in manufacture of fiberglass product and composite materials.

      Phenol-formaldehyde used in lavatory seats, electrical fittings and equipment decorative laminates.


      In its crystalline form, it is a colorless plastic plastic that can be clear and hard. It can also be foamed to provide exceptional insulation properties. Foamed or expanded polystyrene (EPS) is used for products such as meat trays, egg cartons and coffee cups. It is also used for packaging and protecting appliances, electronics and other sensitive products.


      Its tough, weather-resisting plastic & durable has excellent electrical properties. It has favorable chemical resistance Polyethylene.

      Its common application is as polyethylene bags. Polyethylene used in manufacture of films, sheets, pipings, tanks, foams, electrical conduit and moldings. Polyethylene films & sheets used as damp proof courses, membranes & curing membranes.


      Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle, a species of darkling Beetle. This is used food for birds. Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle, tenebrio molitor, a species of darkling beetle. Likeall holometabolic insects, the through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

      Stages of Mealworms

      The First Stage of a Mealworm: An Egg

      The first stage of a mealworm's life isan egg. The egg is smaller than the egg picture shown here. The color of the egg is white or cream. The egg is sticky and is quickly concealed by dirt, dust and substrate.it is stay in egg stage of four weeks.

      The Second Stage of a Mealworm: A Mealworm

      The second stage of a mealworm'slife is the larva stage, during this stage, it moves about by crawling and it also sheds its skin several times and this process is known as moulting. It then enters the pupa stage lasts from 2 3 weeks to 9 months.

      The Third Stage of a Mealworm: A Pupa

      The third stage of a mealworm's life isthe pupa stage. It is white in color. During this stage, same as the pupa of a butterfly, it sleeps and does not eat at all.

      The Fourth Stage of a Mealworm: A Darkling Beetle The fourth and last stage of amealworm's life is the adult stage. As the Beetle grows older, it gets darker in color. This 'beetle stage' is the most active Stage in a mealworms life cycle. To protect themselves from their enemies in this stage, they bite hard and move very fast!

      Super worms

      Superworms have four stages of life. The beetles are only ones that reproduce. Breeding superworms is very similar to the mealworms but can pupate. If you keep them together you will never obtain beetles to start another generation superworms grow slowly and it can take 5 months or longer(depending on the temperature you keep them at) to

      become enough to start the morphing process. Keep all the stages at the temperature below 700 and 800 C.

      Superwarms Stages 1.Egg:

      Tiny and white. After several days, the larvae hatch.

      1. Larvae:

        Also known as superworms. If allowed to remain with other superworms, they will live for six months to a year. Only when isolated from other superworms will their bodies begin to pupa.

      2. Pupae:

        When ready to pupate, super worms curl inward, head to tail, and create cocoons from silk that harden to form a protective Shell. The metamorphic process of larva to pupa takes about 10 to 14 days, and from pupa to emerging adult beetle, about another two weeks.

      3. Beetles:

        Also known as Beetles or Darkling Beetles. When it first emerges, the beetle will be very light yellow in color, before turning black when its exoskeleton hardens. As an adult, a darkling beetle can live from 3 to 15 years.

        Degradation of plastics

        Any physical or chemical change in polymer as a result of several environmental factors, such as light, temperature, moisture, chemical conditions or biological activity. Processes that induce changes in polymer properties due to physical,chemical or biological reactions. Degradation are reflected as changes in properties of material (mechanical, optical or electrical characteristics), in cracking, erosion, discoloration, phase separation and delamination. The changes include chemical transformation and formation of new functional groups. The degradation will be photo, thermal or biological.


      From the above chapter of literatures we have carried out under the following topics, viz., Potential hazards of solid wastes are numerous to the living community when it is improperlymanaged. Solid wastes have the potential to pollute all the vital components of living environment (i.e., air, land and water). Some of the hazards caused by solid wastes are listed below;

        1. Mosquitoes breed in blocked drains and in rainwater that is retained in discarded cans,tire and other objects. Mosquitoes spread disease, including malaria and dengue.

        2. Rats find shelter and food in waste dumps. Rats consume and spoil food, spread disease, damage electrical cables and other materials and inflict unpleasant bites.

        3. The open burning of waste causes air pollution; the products of combustion include dioxins that are particularly hazardous.

        4. Aerosols and dusts can spread fungi and pathogens from uncollected and decomposing wastes.

        5. Uncollected wastes often end up in drains, causing blockages that result in flooding and unsanitary conditions.

        6. Open and overflowing bins attract stray dogs, which has been a major cause of the spread of rabies.

        7. Open waste bins also attract stray and domestic cattle. Cattle in the city causes nuisance by blocking the traffic on the roads. Cattle that graze on the waste from bins end up eating the plastic along with the vegetable matter, which proves to be fatal for them. The milk obtained from the cattle that feed on waste can be contaminated and can prove to be unsafe for human health.

        8. Flies breed in some constituents of solid wastes, and flies are very effective vectors that spread disease.

        9. Uncollected waste degrades the urban environment, discouraging efforts to keep streets and open spaces in a clean and hygienic condition. Plastic bags are in particular an aesthetic nuisance.

        10. Waste collection workers face particular occupational hazards, including strains from lifting, injuries from sharp objects and contact with pathogens when manually handling the waste.

        11. Dangerous items (such as broken glass, razor blades, hypodermic needles and other healthcare wastes, aerosol cans and potentially explosive containers and chemicals from industries) may pose risks of injury or poisoning, particularly to children and people who sort through the waste.

        12. Heavy refuse collection trucks can cause significant damage to the surfaces of roads that were not designed for such weights.

        13. Waste items that are reused without being cleaned effectively or sterilized can transmit infection to later users. (Examples are bottles and medical supplies).

        14. Polluted water (leachate) flowing from waste dumps and disposal sites can cause serious pollution of water supplies, ponds and lakes. Chemical wastes (especially persistentorganics) may be fatal or have serious effects if ingested, inhaled or touched and cancause widespread pollution of water supplies.

        15. Waste that is treated or disposed of in unsatisfactory ways can cause a severe aesthetic nuisance in terms of smell and appearance.

        16. Liquids and fumes, escaping from deposits of wastes (perhaps formed as a result of chemical reactions between components in the wastes), can have fatal or other serious effects.

        17. Methane (one of the main components of landfill gas) is much more effective than caron dioxide as a greenhouse gas, leading to climate change.

        18. Fires on disposal sites can cause major air pollution, causing illness and reducing visibility, making disposal sites dangerously unstable, causing explosions of cans, and possibly spreading to adjacent property.

        19. Former disposal sites provide very poor foundation support for large buildings, so buildings constructed on former sites are prone to collapse.

        20. Rag pickers working on landfill are prone to many diseases like respiratory infections such as lung impairment. In a study carried out by Chittaranjan national Cancer Institute, Kolkata compared the health of Delhis rag pickers with that of the control subjects from east Delhi slums. Nearly 75.5 rag pickers from the sample group of 98 had higher frequency of upper respiratory symptoms (sinusitis, running or stuffy nose, sore throat, common cold, fever) and

        1. percent showed lower respiratory symptoms (dry cough, cough with phlegm, wheezing, and chest discomfort) and breathing problem.


      In order to brief out the aim and outcome of this study, the various methods followed are highlighted here in a sequence. The first condition mealworms added to the polyethylene. Polyethylene of2 grams added to the chamber and degraded about 7.5 % from the 2 grams.

      The second condition mealworms added to the polystyrene. Polystyreneof 1.05 grams added to the chamber and degraded about 52.3 % from the 1.05 grams.

      The third condition mealworms added to the polyethylene and polystyrene. The polyethylene and polystyrene combination of 2.79 grams added to the chamber and degraded about 14.3 % from 2.79 grams. Figures and Tables

      The first condition superworms added to the polyethylene. Polyethylene of 2 grams added to the chamber and degraded about 13.5 % from the 2 grams.

      The second condition superworms added to the polystyrene. Polystyrene of 1.05 grams added to the chamber and degraded about 88.4 % from the 1.05 grams.

      The third condition superworms added to the polyethylene and polystyrene. The polyethylene and polystyrene combination of 2.79 grams added to the chamber and degraded about 25.08 % from 2.79 grams.

      The first condition superworms added to the polyethylene. Polyethylene of 2 grams added to the chamber and degraded about 9 % from the 2 grams.

      The second condition superworms added to the polystyrene. Polystyrene of 1.05 grams added to the chamber and degraded about 47.61 % from the 1.05 grams.

      The third condition superworms added to the polyethylene and polystyrene. The polyethylene and polystyrene combination of 2.79 grams added to the chamber and degraded about 15.46 % from 2.79 grams.

      We were selected polyethylene and polystyrene for degradation under laboratory conditions. Their effectiveness on the degradation of Low Density ofpolyethylene (carry

      bags,milk cover, bottles)andpolystyrene (thermocoal, cosmetics)was a period of 15 and 30 days. Biodegradation was measured in terms experimentally doneover of mean weight loss anddegradation of plastics in certain amount consumed by the mealworms, superworms.From our project we are suggested that, this also one of the best way to decompose the MSW plastics. Also, its by products useful for the agricultural purpose as manure.


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