A Comprehensive Analysis of Plastics and Microplastic Legislation Worldwide

Aquatic or land-based plastic pollution has raised serious concerns for ecosystems, and especially human and animal health worldwide. A variety of legislative instruments were developed to control, reduce, and manage the usage of plastics in day-to-day life to minimize the adverse outcomes brought by sending these plastic to landfill. Existing legislation heavily embraces levies, bans, and voluntary efforts through “reduce and reuse campaigns.” Thus, the present review highlights the pros and cons of the existing legislation and its implementation. It also assesses the need for the improvement of plastic legislation to better consider environmental and human health impacts. The paper proposes new efficient management strategies to aid in the development of plastic legislation which prevents increase of plastic pollution worldwide, the potential challenges that would arise from its implementation, and the mechanisms for overcoming these challenges. The paper proposes a conventional management strategy based on the current plastic management and legislation. It aims to improve the feasibility and effectiveness of the implementation of future plastic policies.

Chung-Sum Lam, Soundaram Ramanathan, Maddison Carbery, Kelsey Gray, Kanth Swaroop Vanka, Cristelle Maurin, Richard Bush, Thavamani Palanisami, Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, , 229:345

The article

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Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic

Ocean plastic can persist in sea surface waters, eventually accumulating in remote areas of the world’s oceans. Here we characterise and quantify a major ocean plastic accumulation zone formed in subtropical waters between California and Hawaii: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). Our model, calibrated with data from multi-vessel and aircraft surveys, predicted at least 79 (45–129) thousand tonnes of ocean plastic are floating inside an area of 1.6 million km2; a figure four to sixteen times higher than previously reported. We explain this difference through the use of more robust methods to quantify larger debris. Over three-quarters of the GPGP mass was carried by debris larger than 5 cm and at least 46% was comprised of fishing nets. Microplastics accounted for 8% of the total mass but 94% of the estimated 1.8 (1.1–3.6) trillion pieces floating in the area. Plastic collected during our study has specific characteristics such as small surface-to-volume ratio, indicating that only certain types of debris have the capacity to persist and accumulate at the surface of the GPGP. Finally, our results suggest that ocean plastic pollution within the GPGP is increasing exponentially and at a faster rate than in surrounding waters.

L. Lebreton, B. Slat, F. Ferrari, and al., Scientific Reports, volume 8, Article number: 4666 (2018)

The article

Optimization, performance, and application of a pyrolysis-GC/MS method for the identification of microplastics

Plastics are found to be major debris composing marine litter; microplastics (MP, < 5 mm) are found in all marine compartments. The amount of MPs tends to increase with decreasing size leading to a potential misidentification when only visual identification is performed. These last years, pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) has been used to get information on the composition of polymers with some applications on MP identification. The purpose of this work was to optimize and then validate a Py-GC/MS method, determine limit of detection (LOD) for eight common polymers, and apply this method on environmental MP. Optimization on multiple GC parameters was carried out using polyethylene (PE) and polystyrene (PS) microspheres. The optimized Py-GC/MS method require a pyrolysis temperature of 700 °C, a split ratio of 5 and 300 °C as injector temperature. Performance assessment was accomplished by performing repeatability and intermediate precision tests and calculating limit of detection (LOD) for common polymers. LODs were all below 1 μg. For performance assessment, identification remains accurate despite a decrease in signal over time. A comparison between identifications performed with Raman micro spectroscopy and with Py-GC/MS was assessed. Finally, the optimized method was applied to environmental samples, including plastics isolated from sea water surface, beach sediments, and organisms collected in the marine environment. The present method is complementary to μ-Raman spectroscopy as Py-GC/MS identified pigment containing particles as plastic. Moreover, some fibers and all particles from sediment and sea surface were identified as plastic.

Ludovic Hermabessiere, Charlotte Himber, Béatrice Boricaud, Maria Kazour, Rachid Amara, Anne-Laure Cassone, Michel Laurentie, Ika Paul-Pont, Philippe Soudant, Alexandre Dehaut, Guillaume Duflos, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, , Volume 410, Issue 25, pp 6663–6676

The article

The Impact of Microplastics on Marine Copepods

Marine atmospheres are exposed to a widespread of anthropogenic pollutants, including radionuclides, nanoparticles, sewage, endocrine disruptors, hydrophobic contaminants and plastic debris. Plastic debris is a wide range contaminant of both freshwater and marine ecosystems, where it can accumulate over time and pose a risk to the health of aquatic organisms (Barnes et al. 2009; Derraik 2002). In the last 60 years, there has been a rapid growing in plastic manufacture, and in 2012 over 288 million tonnes of plastic was produced globally (Plastics Europe 2013) which demonstrates 2.8% development upon the previous year (Plastics Europe 2013). It is held on that 10% of plastics mass produced are likely to end up in the marine environment (Thompson 2006).

P. Raju, S. Gunabal, P. Santhanam, Basic and Applied Zooplankton Biology, pp 429-442, , chapter

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LIFE and the marine environment – Tackling the blight of marine litter

LIFE (“The Financial Instrument for the Environment and Climate Action”) is a programme launched by the European Commission and coordinated by the Environment and Climate Action Directorates-General. The Commission has delegated the implementation of many components of the LIFE programme to the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME).

LIFE projects are practical tools in the fight against marine litter or invasive alien species, among others. They help balance or reduce any negative impacts of fishing and aquaculture, underwater noise, marine contaminants and eutrophication.

European Union, 2018, 76 pages, The report

Tackling the blight of marine litter, Stopping microplastics from clothes washing into the sea (p. 39)

Plastic pollution: Scientists identify two more potential ‘garbage patch’ zones in world’s oceans

Study attempts to locate remaining 99% of plastic unaccounted for by conventional surveys.

An attempt to locate millions of tons of “missing” plastic in the world’s oceans has thrown up two locations that may contain enormous, previously unreported patches of debris.

Plastic has risen to the top of the environmental agenda after scientists sounded the alarm about the potential impact it as having on marine life.

Best estimates suggest 10 million tons of plastic are dumped in the sea every year. (…) (Theindependent, 13/09/2018)

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Effect of Microplastic Amendment to Food on Diet Assimilation Efficiencies of PCBs by Fish

Diet assimilation efficiencies (AEs) of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) absorbed to microplastics and food were determined in goldfish (Carassius auratus). Microplastics were spiked with 14 environmentally rare PCBs and incorporated into fish pellets previously spiked with a technical PCB mixture (Aroclor 1254). Five diet treatments were created having microplastic contents of 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25% and fed to fish within 24 h of the diet creation. Fish from each treatment were fed a microplastic amended food pellet and PCB AEs were determined by mass balance. Microplastic-associated PCBs had lower AEs (geomean 13.36%) compared to food matrix-associated PCBs (geomean 51.64%). There were interactions between PCB AEs and the microplastic content of the diet. PCBs affiliated with microplastics became more bioavailable with increasing microplastic content of food while food matrix-associated PCB bioavailability declined when microplastic contents exceeded 5%. Despite controlling for microplastic-food contact time, there was some evidence for redistribution of lower KOW food matrix-associated PCBs onto microplastics causing a decrease in their AE relative to nonplastic and low plastic containing diets. The low bioavailability of microplastic-associated PCBs observed in the present study provides further support to indicate that microplastics are unlikely to increase POPs bioaccumulation by fish in aquatic systems.

Stefan Grigorakis and Ken G. Drouillard, Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP, August 16, 2018

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