Monitoring, Control and Assessment of Plastic Wastes: A Life-cycle Thinking for Circularity
Plastic wastes in the natural environment have aroused significant attentions around the world due to its severe impacts to ecosystem and human health. In particular, microplastics (or nanoplastics) in combination with toxic contaminants would be transferred through the food chain via bioaccumulation, thereby potentially affecting food safety and human health. In this research, we will provide an overview on the current situations of global plastic wastes. Then, we will discuss the key elements in monitoring, control and assessment of plastic wastes from a life-cycle thinking. For instance, in the case of monitoring, we will illustrate the methodology of thermal analyses, such as thermogravimetric analysis, for quantifying the microplastics in real waterbodies. We will also discuss the reuse and recycle of plastic wastes from both theoretical considerations and practical applications, thereby realizing circular economy system. Lastly, we will point out the priority research directions for microplastics monitoring, control and assessment, including (i) development of standardized and robust methods for sampling, characterization and quantification of microplastics in water, sediments and biological tissues, (ii) development to effective strategies and technologies for control and removal of microplastics, (iii) evaluation of occurrence, behaviors and fate of microplastics at global scale concerning their long-terms effects to ecosystems, and (iv) thorough assessment of health and ecological risks in different environmental matrices. This study will provide an insight into the green research on renewable alternatives and/or alternative waste management strategies for plastic wastes.
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