Workshop: Plastics and environment

SESSION D13 / PANORAMA HALL 2 / 15:30 - 17:10
Workshop: Plastics and environment
Chair / Presidente: C. Gwinnett (UK)

Most individuals globally have heard of or have first-hand experience of plastic pollution; whether that is from their last beach holiday or through the media.
Over the last ten years there has been an increased public awareness of the extent of plastic pollution and, in particular, microplastic pollution due to highly publicised studies and widespread media attention. Microplastics (defined as <5mm in size) have been found to be present in all environments, even remote locations, and have proven to have many adverse effects to biota that ingest them. Although the focus has previously been on the effects on aquatic life, this has also turned to humans in recent years. Now that scientists know that microplastics are omnipresent in water, air and even soil, attention now needs to be paid to improving the methods used to collect and understand the true prevalence of this pollutant type. The standardisation of methods to sample, recover and analyse microplastics is urgently needed to allow for large scale data analysis that allows a more accurate understanding of the extent of the pollution and which would subsequently inform improved mitigation activities. With knowledge of the problems associated with plastic pollution, comes advancement in producing alternatives, such as biodegradable plastics; this is a step-forwards to reducing our reliance on plastic. With the introduction of these plastic alternatives come questions that must be answered around their degradation and fate in our ecosystems which need to be understood to ensure these are actual improvements to our environment. The presence of microplastics in the environment and our food is no longer a surprise but now there is a need for global organisations, government bodies and scientists from a multitude of disciplines must work together to answer current key questions such as ‘what is the true extent of this pollutant?’ and ‘how do we combat it at all levels?’. This workshop will ask these questions by introducing the key issues of microplastic pollution and scientific studies that have investigated improved methods for recovery and analysis, bioplastic abundance in water environments and microplastic presence in common foodstuffs. This workshop will encourage scientists to think about how a multidisciplinary approach to addressing this pollution issue could be better implemented and encourage innovative ideas from all sectors.

Introductory lectures:

A. Bartl, W. Ipsmiller, B. Piribauer, D. Koch, T. Laminger (AT)
Microplastics in maritime systems, overview and methods for analysis

S. Lenz, J. Mayerhofer, P. Rauscher, A. Rameder, E. Binner, M. Huber-Humer, G. Obersteiner (AT)
Bioplastics in bio waste and Danube litteringBioplastics in biowaste and Danube littering

P. Zuccarello, G. Oliveri Conti, C. Favara, I. Nicolosi, C. Allagui, M. Banni, M. Maisano, M. Ferrante (IT)
Microplastics <10µm in vegetables and fruit as unmanaged risk of the circular economy

17:10 - 17:40 Coffee break + Poster discussion