The potential for a plastic recycling facility to release microplastic pollution and possible filtration remediation effectiveness

Erina Brown, Anna MacDonald, Steve Allen, Deonie Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
120 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

With current plastic production and the growing problem of global plastic pollution, an increase and improvement in plastic recycling is needed. There is limited knowledge or assessment of microplastic pollution from point sources such as plastic recycling facilities globally. This pilot study investigates microplastic pollution from a mixed plastics recycling facility in the UK to advance current quantitative understanding of microplastic (MP) pollution release from a plastic recycling facility to receiving waters. Raw recycling wash water were estimate to contain microplastic counts between 5.97× 106 – 1.12 × 108 MP m−3 (following fluorescence microscopy analysis) . The microplastic pollution mitigation (filtration installed) was found to remove the majority of microplastics >5μm, with high removal efficiencies for microplastics >40μm. Microplastics <5μm were generally not removed by the filtration and subsequently discharged, with 59-1184 tonnes potentially discharged annually. It is recommended that additional filtration to remove the smaller microplastics prior to wash discharge is incorporated in the wash water management. Evidence of microplastic wash water pollution suggest it may be important to integrate microplastics into water quality regulations. Further studies should be conducted to increase knowledge of microplastic pollution from plastic recycling processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100309
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials Advances
Volume10
Early online date1 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2023

Keywords

  • microplastics
  • plastic recycling facility
  • mitigation
  • wash water

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