Polyurethane foams due to their easily regulated domain structure are group of polymers with highly variable properties. They are widely used to provide comfort in many areas of daily life. Because of toxic products polyurethane foam waste cannot be disposed by means of thermal degradation, they also show a high resistance to chemical and physical factor. Those properties combined with their low apparent density and widespread use (about 18 million tons per year) lead to a significant volume of waste that is stored in landfills. In Poland, more than 60% of those landfills, certified as well as illegal, are located in rural areas.
The aim of this study was to determine the enzymatic abilities of microorganisms isolated from foam waste, which can potentially decompose polyurethane (ureases, esterases, proteases, and laccases), and to determine their ability to grow on a medium containing polyurethane foam as the only carbon source.
Most of the tested strains produced ureases while the least produced were laccases and proteases. Four of the tested strains: Epicoccum nigrum, Aspergillus niger, Staphylococcus xylosus and Rhodococcus spp. showed significant growth on the medium with polyurethane foam as sole carbon source.
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