Due to the persistent use and disposal of single-use plastics, plastic waste has become the second most prevalent material found in landfills, trailing only food waste. The adoption of biodegradable alternatives to single-use plastics could introduce composting as a sustainable method of disposal. The composting of these materials alongside food waste would effectively reduce the accumulation of plastic and food waste in landfills. Products that are marketed as biodegradable and compostable were evaluated to determine the percentage of weight loss that occurred when they were buried in soil and soil amended with 30% food waste. The impact of forced aeration was also studied. Burial results indicated that among the tested materials, only the cellulose-based products and one starch-based food waste bag met the required composability standards. Microbial culturing and CO2 evolution data revealed that the addition of food waste enhanced both microbial diversity and biodegradation processes within the compost. However, a significant change in CO2 production due solely to the biodegradation of polymer samples was not observed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Biodegradable plastics--Biodegradation; Biodegradable products--Biodegradation; Compost

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Environmental Science (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)


Jeffrey Lodge

Advisor/Committee Member

Kaitlin Stack-Whitney

Advisor/Committee Member

Karl Korfmacher


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes