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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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

Adsorption of perfluoroalkyl substances on microplastics under environmental conditions

Plastic debris has become an environmental problem during recent years. Among the plastic debris, microplastics (<5 mm; MPLs) imply an extra problem due to their capacity to enter into the fauna through ingestion. In this work, we study the capacity of three MPLs, that include high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polystyrene (PS) and polystyrene carboxylate (PS-COOH), to sorb 18 perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs; including carboxylic acids, sulphonates and one sulphonamide) from the surrounding waters (freshwater and seawater).

Conclusions drawn from the results are that perfluoro sulphonates and sulphonamides have more tendency to be sorbed onto MPLs. In addition, PS and PS-COOH have more affinity for PFASs than HDPE. Finally, the increment of conductivity and pH of the water decreases the exposure time that is necessary to reach equilibrium. However, the presence of salts decreases the tendency of PFASs to be sorbed onto plastic surfaces. These results highlight the problem associated with the presence of MPLs in inland and marine waters since toxic compounds can be sorbed onto surrounding plastics that could be ingested by aquatic fauna.

Marta Llorca, Gabriella Schirinzi, Mònica Martínez and al., Environmental Pollution, Volume 235, April 2018, Pages 680–691

The article

Marine litter on the seafloor of the southern Baltic

Marine litter occurrence and composition were investigated during routine bottom trawl fish surveys type BITS performed in the Polish Maritime Areas (the southern Baltic Sea). Sampling covered a distance of 325 km and an area of 16 km2 at a depth range of 19–110 m. Litter densities varying between 0 items/ha (34% of tows) and 2.23 items/ha with a mean of 0.20 items/ha (SD = 0.30) are at the bottom range of densities reported from other shelf habitats worldwide at similar water depths. The majority of the items (40%) were found at a depth range of 51–60 m. Overall, plastic was the most common litter type (67% of all items) found in all tows with litter. The results of this study indicate that despite the Baltic being a semi-enclosed basin, with a densely populated coastline and extensive shipping, marine litter pollution of the southern Baltic seafloor is low compared to other coastal areas.

Barbara Urban-Malinga, Tycjan Wodzinowski, Bartosz Witalis, Mariusz Zalewski, Krzysztof Radtke, Włodzimierz Grygiel, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 127, February 2018, Pages 612–617

The article

Characterization of microplastic litter in the gastrointestinal tract of Solea solea from the Adriatic Sea

Micro-plastic particles in the world’s oceans represent a serious threat to both human health and marine ecosystems. Once released into the aquatic environment plastic litter is broken down to smaller pieces through photo-degradation and the physical actions of waves, wind, etc. The resulting particles may become so small that they are readily taken up by fish, crustaceans and mollusks. There is mounting evidence for the uptake of plastic particles by marine organisms that form part of the human food chain and this is driving urgent calls for further and deeper investigations into this pollution issue.

The present study aimed at investigating for the first time the occurrence, amount, typology of microplastic litter in the gastrointestinal tract of Solea solea and its spatial distribution in the northern and central Adriatic Sea. This benthic flatfish was selected as it is a species of high commercial interest within the FAO GFCM (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean) area 37 (Mediterranean and Black Sea) where around 15% of the overall global Solea solea production originates.

The digestive tract contents of 533 individuals collected in fall during 2014 and 2015 from 60 sampling sites were examined for microplastics. These were recorded in 95% of sampled fish, with more than one microplastic item found in around 80% of the examined specimens. The most commonly found polymers were polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polyethylene, polyester, and polyamide, 72% as fragments and 28% as fibers. The mean number of ingested microplastics was 1.73 ± 0.05 items per fish in 2014 and 1.64 ± 0.1 in 2015. PVC and PA showed the highest densities in the northern Adriatic Sea, both inshore and off-shore while PE, PP and PET were more concentrated in coastal areas with the highest values offshore from the port of Rimini.

G. Pellini, A. Gomiero, T. Fortibuoni and al., Environmental Pollution, Volume 234, March 2018, Pages 943–952

The article

Synthetic microfibers in the marine environment: A review on their occurrence in seawater and sediments

The objective of this review is to summarize information on microfibers in seawater and sediments from available scientific information.

Microfibers were found in all reviewed documents. An heterogeneous approach is observed, with regard to sampling methodologies and units. Microfibers in sediments range from 1.4 to 40 items per 50 mL or 13.15 to 39.48 items per 250 g dry weight. In the case of water, microfibers values ranges from 0 to 450 items·m− 3 or from 503 to 459,681 items·km− 2. Blue is the most common color in seawater and sediments, followed by transparent and black in the case of seawater, and black and colorful in sediments.

Related with polymer type, polypropylene is the most common in water and sediments, followed by polyethylene in water and polyester in water and sediments. Some polymers were described only in water samples: high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene and cellophane, whilst only rayon was reported in sediments.

J. Gago, O. Carretero, A.V. Filgueiras, L. Viñas, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 127, February 2018, Pages 365–376

The article

Proceedings of the International Conference on Microplastic Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea

This book focuses on different aspects of microplastic pollution, offering authors and readers the opportunity to share their knowledge, identify issues and propose solutions and actions to face this environmental threat. Although plastic pollution is a well-known global problem, the recent discovery of microplastics and nanoplastics in seas and oceans represents a very alarming new environmental challenge. The book offers comprehensive insights into the origins of the problem, its impact on marine environments, particularly the Mediterranean Sea and coasts, and the current research trends aimed at finding technical solutions to mitigate the phenomenon.

Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA). Editors : Mariacristina Cocca, Emilia Di Pace, Maria Emanuela Errico, Gennaro Gentile, Alessio Montarsolo, Raffaella Mossotti, 2018

The book