Is the polylactic acid fiber in Green compost a risk for lumbricus terrestris and triticum aestivum?

Esperanza Huerta-Lwanga*, Jorge Mendoza-Vega, Oriana Ribeiro, Henny Gertsen, Piet Peters, Violette Geissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Polylactic acid (PLA) bioplastic was introduced to the market as an environmentally friendly potential solution for plastic pollution. However, the effects of bioplastic debris mixed with composts on soil macroinvertebrates, plant growth and soil conditions are still unknown. Soil macroinvertebrates are soil health indicators. A reduction in their abundance is a sign of soil degradation. The objectives of this study were (i) to assess PLA debris in greenhouse composts, and (ii) to test the ecotoxicological effects of PLA debris mixed with compost on Lumbricus terrestris, a soil organism model, and on Triticum aestevium, a plant growth model. The study was comprised of three stages: (1) determine the PLA debris size distribution in composts; (2) assess the ecotoxicological effects of real-world concentrations (0% to 5%) of PLA mixed with compost on earthworm mortality and reproduction; and (3) assess the influence of compost mixed with real-world PLA concentrations on plant growth and physicochemical soil conditions. One percent of PLA debris was found in green composts, 40% of composted PLA debris measured between 1–10 mm, with a concentration of 82.8 ± 17.4 microplastics.gram−1 compost. A concentration of 1% PLA in composts resulted in significant mortality in earthworms. No significant effects of PLA mixed with composts were observed on plant growth or soil physicochemical conditions. Further studies are required in order to test the effect of this biopolymer on different earthworm and plant’ species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number703
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2021


  • Earthworms
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Green composts
  • Plants
  • Polylactic acid


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