The main purposes of wastewater treatment systems are to remove organic pollutants, but it would be very attractive if there were a way to recover the organic pollutants as valuable organic materials. One of the possible ways to recover organic pollutants in wastewater is to convert them into polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), which are biodegradable plastics. In this study, 18 activated sludge samples in 4 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Tokyo, Japan, were evaluated for their potential to produce PHAs by aerobic batch experiments with excess supply of acetate as the sole carbon source. The activated sludge samples tested had the capability to accumulate PHA up to 18.8% of dry cell weight on average, with the range of 6.0% to 29.5%. The results showed that the maximum PHA content was dependent on the influent more than on the operational conditions of the activated sludge, and that conventional activated sludge produced PHA as much as anaerobic-aerobic activated sludge did. The PHA content achieved in this study is still low, and further improvement is needed to put into practice the recovery process of organic pollutants as biodegradable plastics by activated sludge.

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