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.