Unlike conventional plastics, many bioplastics are biodegradable. This means that there are microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi that can absorb and metabolize these bioplastics as a source of energy.
Plastics can be discharged into the environment through industrial wastewater. To prevent this, special processes for the separation of plastics have been developed that can be integrated into industrial wastewater treatment plants.
This status report was prepared within the framework of the cross-cutting topic 1 "Analytics and reference materials" of the research focus. It summarizes the contents of the project discussions and coordination within the cross-cutting issue. The organization of this ongoing process of development or elaboration has been supported by several events.
It is not easy to determine how much microplastic is contained in wastewater and sewage sludge. In addition to plastic, countless other particles and substances are present. To reliably determine the concentration of microplastic particles, complex procedures for sampling as well as for removal of foreign substances and analysis of the microplastic particles are required.
"To assess the ecologic danger posed by microplastics, one must also consider indirect effects in the food web", say Sebastian Höss (Ecossa) and Marie-Theres Rauchschwalbe (Bielefeld University). The researchers from the joint project MikroPlaTaS looked at these effects using nematodes as an example.
Plastic is now ubiquitous not only in the sea but also in many inland waters. In certain areas, such as at barrages or in dams, the flow velocity decreases. As a result, the particles previously held in suspension by the current begin to sink to the bottom of the water and can then accumulate in the sediment.
Microplastics can enter our wastewater along the entire value chain. Removal options exist primarily in wastewater treatment plants, here in the form of filtration, flotation and sedimentation processes. The removal performance of wastewater treatment plants determines how much microplastic is discharged into the environment.
The German Packaging Act calls for a significant increase in recycling rates for plastics. In order to be able to produce high-quality recyclates, plastic articles must be separated by type. However, there is currently a lack of satisfactory identification options for the many different plastics.
We encounter plastic in many forms and functions in everyday life. Especially in supermarkets, extensive plastic packaging often catches the eye of consumers. However, the desire to shop with less packaging does not always translate into the use of more sustainable products.
In this factsheet, joint project KuWert shows how plastic recycling can be profitable. The research team developed a floating recycling platform, mobile and independent of local structures. The system was tested in coastal cities in West Africa, where a lot of plastic ends up in the sea.
The first factsheet of the research focus is dealing with the question of how consumers can save plastic when buying clothes. It is often difficult to know how much plastic is produced along the textile value chain, before a product arrives in the store.
The discussion about plastic waste is anything but new for German municipalities. In fact, as early as the 1980s, numerous German municipalities were experimenting with plastic waste prevention regulations and waste prevention in general. A further impetus for plastic waste prevention was provided in the early 1990s with the discussions on the introduction of a nationwide packaging ordinance.
Numerous one- to two-person households, an increase in mail-order business as well as the popular "to-go" culture are causing a steady rise in the consumption of plastic packaging in Germany. While approximately 1.8 million tons of plastic were produced per year in 2000, this figure had already risen to 3.1 million tons by 2016.
The paper shows that well meant is not always well done. It deals with the question of blank value entries and how "one" should handle them. It shows that disposable gloves can be a source of false positive PE findings, as they can be coated with sterates, for example, which can be confused with PE by all analytical methods (pyr-GC/MS and spectroscopy).
There is a growing interest in monitoring microplastics in the environment, corresponding to increased public concerns regarding their potential adverse effects on ecosystems. Monitoring microplastics in the environment is difficult due to the complex matrices that can prevent reliable analysis if samples are not properly prepared first.
In order to counteract the problem of the constantly growing volume of packaging in Germany (Schüler, 2019), the Federal Government has promoted the strategy of waste avoidance over other strategies such as reuse, recycling and recovery or disposal strategies of packaging waste in the waste hierarchy of the Circular Economy Act.