In line with the Circular Economy approach, the production of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) with organic waste as the feedstock may a biotechnological application to reduce waste and recover high-value materials. The potential contaminants that could transfer from bio-waste to a PHA include inorganic elements, such as heavy metals. Hence, the total content and migratability of certain elements were evaluated in several PHA samples produced from different origins and following different methods. The total content of certain elements in PHA ranged between 0.0001 (Be) and 49,500 mg kg−1 (Na). The concentrations of some alkaline (Na and K) and alkaline earth (Ca and Mg) metals were highest, which are of little environmental concern. The feedstock type and PHA stabilisation and extraction procedures affected the element contents. Several sets of experiments were conducted to evaluate the migration of elements from the PHA samples under different storage times, temperatures, and pH levels. The total contents of some heavy metals (As, Cd, Fe, Hg, Ni, Pb, and Zn) in PHA produced from fruit waste or crops (commercial PHA) were lower than those in the PHA samples produced from the mixture of the organic fraction of municipal waste and sludge from wastewater treatment. Both the PHA obtained by extraction from wet biomass (acid storage) with aqueous phase extraction reagents and commercial PHA were below the migration limits stipulated by the current Toy Safety Directive and by Commission Regulation (EU) October 2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food under frozen and refrigerated conditions.
- Cold vapour generation atomic fluorescence spectrometry
- Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
- Toxic elements