Land-Based Solutions for Plastics in the Sea
There are 5,250 billion plastic particles floating on the surface on the world’s seas and oceans, equivalent to 268,940 metric tons of waste. These fragments move with the currents before washing up on beaches, islands, coral atolls or one of the five great ocean gyres. Because MP cannot be removed form oceans, proactive action regarding research on plastic alternatives and strategies to prevent plastic entering the environment should be taken promptly. Despite the research increasing, there is still a lack of suitable and validated analytical methods for detection and quantification of small micro- and nano plastics (SMNP) evidencing a huge obstacle for large-scale monitoring. There is also a lack of hazard and fate data which would allow their risk assessment. LABPLAS is a 48-months project whose vision is creating capacities (sampling, analysis and quantification techniques, new materials and new models) to evaluate rapidly and precisely the interactions of plastics with the environmental compartments and natural cycles leading to the development of effective mitigation and elimination measures, as well as, making management decisions. It will assess reliable identification methods for more accurate assessment of the abundance, distribution and toxicity determination of SMNP in the environment, giving the opportunity of new developments of cutting edge technologies. It will also develop practical computational tools that up-scaled should allow European agencies to map plastic-impacted hotspots. The project will have a multi-actor approach, creating scientific knowledge with a partnership of scientists, technicians, research organizations and enterprises, working together towards the recognition at different levels (society, industry, policy) of the main issues (sources, potential biodegradability, ecotoxicology, ingestion, environmental assessment) related to the presence of plastics in ecosystems.