Solid waste is primarily an overlook source of Microplastics that contribute to a delirious amount of pollution to the environment. Thus, a clear understanding of the occurrence and degradation pathways of solid waste microplastics is critical to develop exhaustive control strategies. Dr Deblina Dutta, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science, has published a paper titled, “An insight on sampling, identification, quantification and characteristics of microplastics in solid wastes” in the Q1 journal Trends in Environmental Analytical Chemistry, having an Impact Factor of 13.62.
Abstract of the Research
Microplastics (MPs) have attracted wide attention worldwide as a remarkable pollutant. While MPs spread throughout several complex environmental matrices, various experiments have been preliminarily concentrated on aquatic ecosystems. Terrestrial sources namely solid waste-origin have remained unexplored, although they contribute largely to the origin of aquatic microplastics. Simultaneously, terrestrial systems under human activity, like healthcare units, are likely to be polluted by various plastic ingredients. Solid waste MPs sources primarily include sanitary landfilling, food waste, wastewater treatment end-product (sludge), tire wear, textile washing and paint failure. These microplastics cause adverse impacts on the ecosystem, environment, and health. Accordingly, the present study addressed solid waste MPs’ occurrence and sources, identification, quantification, characterisation, fate, and degradation pathways for developing comprehensive management strategies following the principles of a circular economy.
In particular, this paper critically demonstrated solid waste MPs sources, solid waste MPs sampling followed by identification and quantification by adopting combined chemical (e.g., spectroscopy viz., Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy), physical (e.g., microscopies such as transmission or scanning electronic microscopy, TEM or SEM) and thermal analyses. Additionally, the strengths and limitations of each analytical technique are discussed critically with practical aspects. Further, national and international regulations or laws and their subsequent relevance to solid waste MPs management with future challenges are critically discussed. Finally, the outcomes of the review paper will be valuable to different stakeholders for effective policy implementation.
Explanation of the Research in Layperson’s Terms
The published paper deals with microplastics (5 mm to 0.1 μm in size) present ubiquitously in the natural environment including rivers, lakes, estuaries, atmosphere, oceans, soil/sediments, landfilling sites, and wastewater treatment plants. However, microplastics are also present in solid waste and studies related to their identification, characterisation, and quantification are very scarce. Therefore, to know more about microplastics and understand the sources of microplastics in solid waste, the extraction procedures, the identification, characterisation, and quantification techniques, and finally the advantages and disadvantages of each of the processes involved in the identification, characterization, and quantification techniques of microplastics, this study has been carried out.
Practical Implementation/ Social Implications of the Research
Waste-assisted plastic pollution is a major global concern with socio-economic, ecological, and health effects. The present study will make society understand the source of microplastics in solid waste along with its extraction procedures, identification, characterisation, and quantification techniques. If society is aware of the adverse effects of microplastics, then only one can think to protect the environment and human health.
The research has been carried out in collaboration with the University of Burdwan, the University of North Bengal, and CSIR-NEERI, Nagpur.
It is now widely recognised that microplastic pollution poses a serious threat to the environment on a global scale. Having originated from a diverse source, it has persisted in various ecosystems, thereby entering the trophic chain. It has contributed to microplastic pollution in the environment, e-waste being a major source of it. Hence, along with metal recovery from e-waste, regulating microplastic pollution is a growing interest. At this juncture, Dr Dutta’s future research is directed towards resource recovery processes, regulating microplastic pollution, risk assessment, life cycle assessment, and techno-economics analysis.