An innovative approach, based on HyperSpectral Imaging (HSI), was developed in order to set up an efficient method to analyze marine microplastic litter. HSI was applied to samples collected by surface-trawling plankton nets from several parts of the world (i.e. Arctic, Mediterranean, South Atlantic and North Pacific). Reliable information on abundance, size, shape and polymer type for the whole ensemble of plastic particles in each sample was retrieved from single hyperspectral images. The simultaneous characterization of the polymeric composition of the plastic debris represents an important analytical advantage considering that this information, and even the validation of the plastic nature of the small debris, is a common flaw in the analysis of marine microplastic pollution. HSI was revealed as a rapid, non-invasive, non-destructive and reliable technology for the characterization of the microplastic waste, opening a promising way for improving the plastic pollution monitoring.
Silvia Serranti, Roberta Palmieri, Giuseppe Bonifazi, Andrés Cózar, Waste Management, Available online 5 March 2018, In Press