Thilo Hofmann at the Department of Geosciences is leading the Biodegradable Plastics in Compost project.

Description:In a research collaboration between the University of Vienna and BASF, Thilo Hofmann and his co-researchers develop robust methods that contribute to ongoing international standardization of biodegradable plastics. The aim is to ensure that the complete degradation of compostable plastics can be verified and guaranteed. Compost, an essential raw material for soil improvement and fertilization, is produced from organic household, garden, and park waste through a decomposition process. With the growing importance of biomass recovery from household waste, the use of high-quality compost is becoming increasingly important, including for agricultural use.

The challenge is that biodegradable plastics undergo a fragmentation phase in which larger particles are broken down into micro- and nanoplastics. It must be verified that these small fragments are also completely degraded in the compost, an issue addressed in the current project. The research collaboration aims to investigate the degradation of biodegradable plastics using different composting techniques and to complement existing methods for biomineralization with methods for the fragment phase.

Collaborators: Thilo Hofmann, Frank von der Kammer, Dean Velikov, Martin Stockhausen (University of Vienna), BASF

Duration: 3 years (01.10.2023 -30.09.2026)