A review of mechanisms underlying the impacts of (nano)microplastics on anaerobic digestion

Seyed Mohammad Mirsoleimani Azizi, Faisal I. Hai, Wenjing Lu, Abdullah Al-Mamun, Bipro Ranjan Dhar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of (nano)microplastics in domestic wastewater and their subsequent release to the aquatic environment via the discharge of treated sewage has raised significant concerns. Previous studies have also identified their excessive accumulation in sewage sludge. Anaerobic digestion is one of the most used sludge stabilization methods in wastewater treatment plants. Therefore, understanding the potential effects of (nano)microplastics on anaerobic digestion has been receiving increasing attention from researchers. This article provides a comprehensive review of mechanisms underlying the impacts of (nano)microplastics on anaerobic digestion. Notably, this review covers mechanisms of inhibition/enhancement of anaerobic digestion by (nano)microplastics and their potential impacts on biochemical pathways, key enzymes, functional genes, and microbial communities investigated to date. Moreover, potential environmental risks of biosolids contaminated with (nano)microplastics were highlighted. Finally, knowledge gaps and future research needs were outlined. This review will guide more standardized studies in the future, covering both fundamental and engineering aspects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124894
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • (Nano)microplastics
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biomethane
  • Microplastics
  • Sewage sludge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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