Plastic Waste: a European strategy to protect the planet, defend our citizens and empower our industries

The strategy will protect the environment from plastic pollution whilst fostering growth and innovation, turning a challenge into a positive agenda for the future of Europe. There is a strong business case for transforming the way products are designed, produced, used, and recycled in the EU and by taking the lead in this transition, we will create new investment opportunities and jobs. Under the new plans, all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics will be restricted. (…)

European Commission, 16/01/2018

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Effects of pollution on marine organisms

This review covers selected 2016 articles on the biological effects of pollutants and human physical disturbances on marine and estuarine plants, animals, ecosystems and habitats. The review, based largely on journal articles, covers field and laboratory measurement activities (bioaccumulation of contaminants, field assessment surveys, toxicity testing and biomarkers) as well as pollution issues of current interest including endocrine disrupters, emerging contaminants, wastewater discharges, dredging and disposal etc. Special emphasis is placed on effects of oil spills and marine debris due largely to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. Several topical areas reviewed in the past (ballast water and ocean acidification) were dropped this year. The focus of this review is on effects, not pollutant fate and transport. There is considerable overlap across subject areas (e.g.some bioaccumulation papers may be cited in other topical categories). Please use keyword searching of the text to locate related but distributed papers. Use this review only as a guide and please consult the original papers before citing them.

Mearns, Alan J.; Reish, Donald J.; Oshida, Philip S.; Morrison, Ann Michelle; Rempel-Hester, Mary Ann; Arthur, Courtney; Rutherford, Nicolle; Pryor, Rachel, Water Environment Research, 2017 Literature Review, pp. 1704-1798 (95)

The article

Impacts of temperature and selected chemical digestion methods on microplastic particles

Alkaline and wet peroxide oxidation chemical digestion techniques used to extract microplastics from organic matrices were assessed for recoveries and for impacts on ability to identify polymer types. Methods using wet peroxide oxidation generated enough heat to result in the complete loss of some types of microplastic particles, and boiling tests confirmed that temperatures >70 °C were responsible for the losses. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) confirmed minimal alteration of the recovered polymers by the applied methods.

K. Munno, P. A. Helm, D. A. Jackson and al., Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 91–98

The article

Plastic microbeads ban enters force in UK

Manufacturing ban means the tiny beads which harm marine life can no longer be used in cosmetics and personal care product.

Plastic microbeads can no longer be used in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK, after a long-promised ban came into effect on Tuesday. The ban initially bars the manufacture of such products and a ban on sales will follow in July. (…) (theguardian.com, 9/01/2018)

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Plastic ingestion by harbour porpoises Phocoena phocoena in the Netherlands: Establishing a standardised method

Stomach contents of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) collected in the Netherlands between 2003 and 2013 were inspected for the presence of plastic and other man-made litter. In 654 stomach samples the frequency of occurrence of plastic litter was 7% with less than 0.5% additional presence of non-synthetic man-made litter. However, we show that when a dedicated standard protocol for the detection of litter is followed, a considerably higher percentage (15% of 81 harbour porpoise stomachs from the period 2010–2013) contained plastic litter. Results thus strongly depended on methods used and time period considered. Occurrence of litter in the stomach was correlated to the presence of other non-food remains like stones, shells, bog-wood, etc., suggesting that litter was often ingested accidentally when the animals foraged close to the bottom. Most items were small and were not considered to have had a major health impact. No evident differences in ingestion were found between sexes or age groups, with the exception that neonates contained no litter. Polyethylene and polypropylene were the most common plastic types encountered. Compared to earlier literature on the harbour porpoise and related species, our results suggest higher levels of ingestion of litter. This is largely due to the lack of dedicated protocols to investigate marine litter ingestion in previous studies. Still, the low frequency of ingestion, and minor number and mass of litter items found in harbour porpoises in the relatively polluted southern North Sea indicates that the species is not a strong candidate for annual monitoring of marine litter trends under the EU marine strategy framework directive. However, for longer-term comparisons and regional differences, with proper dedicated protocols applied, the harbour porpoise has specific use in quantifying litter presence in the, for that specific objective, poorly studied benthic marine habitat.

Jan A. van Franeker, Elisa L. Bravo Rebolledo, Eileen Hesse, Lonneke L. IJsseldijk, Susanne Kühn, Mardik Leopold, Lara Mielke, Ambio,  pp 1–11, 01/2018

The article

Ingestion of microplastic debris by green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the Great Barrier Reef: Validation of a sequential extraction protocol

Ocean contamination by plastics is a global issue. Although ingestion of plastic debris by sea turtles has been widely documented, contamination by microplastics (< 5 mm) is poorly known and likely to be under-reported. We developed a microplastic extraction protocol for examining green turtle (Chelonia mydas) chyme, which is multifarious in nature, by modifying and combining pre-established methods used to separate microplastics from organic matter and sediments. This protocol consists of visual inspection, nitric acid digestion, emulsification of residual fat, density separation, and chemical identification by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. This protocol enables the extraction of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, (aminoethyl) polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride microplastics > 100 μm. Two macroplastics and seven microplastics (two plastic paint chips and five synthetic fabric particles) were isolated from subsamples of two green turtles. Our results highlight the need for more research towards understanding the impact of microplastics on these threatened marine reptiles.

A. Caron, C. Thomas, K. Berry and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 127, February 2018, Pages 743–751

The article

Microplastics in the benthic invertebrates from the coastal waters of Kochi, Southeastern Arabian Sea

This study examined microplastic particles present in the benthic invertebrates Sternaspis scutata, Magelona cinta (deposit feeders) and Tellina sp. (suspension feeder) from the surface sediments of off-Kochi, southwest coast of India. The microplastic particles and thread-like fibres detected in these organisms were identified to be polystyrene by using DXR Raman microscope. Examination of the microplastic particle in Sternaspis scutata by epifluorescent microscopy showed fragmentation marks on the surface suggesting that the microplastic particle was degraded/weathered in nature. The study provides preliminary evidence of the presence of microplastics in benthic fauna from the coastal waters of India. However, further studies are required to understand the sources, distribution, fate and toxicity of the different types of microplastics in benthic invertebrates in order to identify any potential threats to higher trophic level organisms.

S. A. Naidu, V. Ranga Rao, K. Ramu, Environmental Geochemistry and Health,  pp 1–7, 01/2018

The article