LABPLAS (Land-Based Solutions for Plastics in the Sea), is a 48-months project funded by the European Commission with 5 million € focused on understanding the sources, transport, distribution and impacts of plastic pollution in all environmental compartments (freshwater, marine, terrestrial, atmosphere and aquatic biota). Seventeen partners from 8 countries will apply technological advances (sampling, analysis, quantification), promote biodegradable novel materials, develop innovative and up-scalable models (for assessing the fate, effects and risks of plastics), and present results to national and international authorities and industry for decision making.
Approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste has been generated to date, and 79% has been accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050. Mismanaged plastic waste ends up in the environment and fragments into microplastics (MP). Because MP cannot be removed from ecosystems, prevention is better than cure, research on bioplastic alternatives, and strategies to prevent plastic entering the environment should be taken promptly. Land-derived plastics reach environmental compartments from multiple sources, where they fragment into increasingly smaller particles whose bioavailability and impact increase as particle size decreases, with non-monitored small micro and nanoplastics (SMNP) (<100 µm) posing the highest risk. LABPLAS is a comprehensive collective effort coordinated by University of Vigo (Galicia, Spain), encompassing expertise in pollution, environmental modelling, environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, oceanography, hydrology, paleoecology, soil ecology, microbiology, water engineering, nanotechnology, earth observation, economics and knowledge transfer. These experts team up with the aim of providing European authorities with the pre-normative knowledge needed to fight against plastic pollution on solid scientific grounds.
In plastics, size matters, and the smaller the more dangerous. So LABPLAS will study the smaller fractions (micro and nanoplastics) commonly not monitored in the environment, since they are more easily taken up by organisms. Plastics are not just polymer, and LABPLAS pay attention to the hidden chemicals added to plastic objects to enhance their physical properties, but sometimes hazardous for our metabolism.
LABPLAS includes field work in two contrasting case studies: the urban-industrial Great North Sea including Thames and Elbe basins, and a rural but highway-crossed Mero-Barcés basin (NW Iberian Peninsula) including a reservoir that supplies drinking water to the city of A Coruña (Galicia, NW Spain). Terrestrial soils, freshwaters, marine waters, atmospheric particles, sediments, and aquatic biota samples will be studied using novel techniques from remote sensing to nanotechnologies, and provide robust tools and harmonised methodologies for plastic pollution monitoring. Plastics from environmental samples and new-generation plastics will be tested for toxicity and biodegradability in order to produce a scientifically sound risk assessment where risk posed by plastics is quantified as a function of particle size, shape and composition, and in particular in terms of chemical additives. Environmental and laboratory data will then feed a suite of environmental models, identifying or predicting sources, transport among compartments, and potential transfer of chemicals to biota, up-scalable to produce a pan-European plastic information system (e-PLAS). The aim of the interacting models is to provide tools for environmental management and plan effective mitigation measures.
In short, LABPLAS will guide regulatory efforts and inform consumers within the current legislative initiatives prompted by the EU Plastics Strategy and the Plastics Directive (EU 2019/904) by providing solid scientific evidence and novel technical developments rather than by misperceptions and false myths on plastic properties.
The online LABPLAS kick-off meeting took place on 23rd June 2021 with 59 participants. All 17 partners in the consortium were present at the kick-off meeting: UNIVERSIDADE DE VIGO (Spain), UNIVERSIDADE DA CORUÑA (Spain), Bundesanstalt fuer Gewaesserkunde (Germany), LABORATORIO IBERICO INTERNACIONAL DE NANOTECNOLOGIA (Portugal), KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT LEUVEN (Belgium), HELMHOLTZ ZENTRUM FUR OZEANFORSCHUNG KIEL (Germany), NATIONAL OCEANOGRAPHY CENTRE (United Kingdom), SORBONNE UNIVERSITE (France), OPEN UNIVERSITEIT NEDERLAND (Netherlands), RADBOUD UNIVERSITEIT (Netherlands), LEIBNIZ-INSTITUT FUR OSTSEEFORSCHUNG WARNEMUNDE STIFTUNG (Germany), ASSOCIACAO PARA O DESENVOLVIMENTO DO ATLANTIC INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTRE (Portugal), UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DE SAO PAULO (Brazil), BASF SE (Germany), TG Environmental Research (United Kingdom), CONTACTICA S.L. (SPAIN) and EGI FOUNDATION (Netherlands).
For more information contact Cynthia Gómez (University of Vigo) (Project Manager), firstname.lastname@example.org