Are We Speaking the Same Language? Recommendations for a Definition and Categorization Framework for Plastic Debris

Nanna B. Hartmann*, Thorsten Hüffer, Richard C. Thompson, Martin Hassellöv, Anja Verschoor, Anders E. Daugaard, Sinja Rist, Therese Karlsson, Nicole Brennholt, Matthew Cole, Maria P. Herrling, Maren C. Hess, Natalia P. Ivleva, Amy L. Lusher, Martin Wagner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The accumulation of plastic litter in natural environments is a global issue. Concerns over potential negative impacts on the economy, wildlife, and human health provide strong incentives for improving the sustainable use of plastics. Despite the many voices raised on the issue, we lack a consensus on how to define and categorize plastic debris. This is evident for microplastics, where inconsistent size classes are used, and where the materials to be included are under debate. While this is inherent in an emerging research field, an ambiguous terminology results in confusion and miscommunication that may compromise progress in research and mitigation measures. Therefore, we need to be explicit on what exactly we consider plastic debris. Thus, we critically discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a unified terminology, propose a definition and categorization framework and highlight areas of uncertainty. Going beyond size classes, our framework includes physico-chemical properties (polymer composition, solid state, solubility) as defining criteria and size, shape, color, and origin as classifiers for categorization. Acknowledging the rapid evolution of our knowledge on plastic pollution, our framework will promote consensus-building within the scientific and regulatory community based on a solid scientific foundation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Volume53
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1039-1047
ISSN0013-936X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this

Hartmann, Nanna B. ; Hüffer, Thorsten ; Thompson, Richard C. ; Hassellöv, Martin ; Verschoor, Anja ; Daugaard, Anders E. ; Rist, Sinja ; Karlsson, Therese ; Brennholt, Nicole ; Cole, Matthew ; Herrling, Maria P. ; Hess, Maren C. ; Ivleva, Natalia P. ; Lusher, Amy L. ; Wagner, Martin. / Are We Speaking the Same Language? Recommendations for a Definition and Categorization Framework for Plastic Debris. In: Environmental Science & Technology. 2019 ; Vol. 53, No. 3. pp. 1039-1047.
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title = "Are We Speaking the Same Language? Recommendations for a Definition and Categorization Framework for Plastic Debris",
abstract = "The accumulation of plastic litter in natural environments is a global issue. Concerns over potential negative impacts on the economy, wildlife, and human health provide strong incentives for improving the sustainable use of plastics. Despite the many voices raised on the issue, we lack a consensus on how to define and categorize plastic debris. This is evident for microplastics, where inconsistent size classes are used, and where the materials to be included are under debate. While this is inherent in an emerging research field, an ambiguous terminology results in confusion and miscommunication that may compromise progress in research and mitigation measures. Therefore, we need to be explicit on what exactly we consider plastic debris. Thus, we critically discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a unified terminology, propose a definition and categorization framework and highlight areas of uncertainty. Going beyond size classes, our framework includes physico-chemical properties (polymer composition, solid state, solubility) as defining criteria and size, shape, color, and origin as classifiers for categorization. Acknowledging the rapid evolution of our knowledge on plastic pollution, our framework will promote consensus-building within the scientific and regulatory community based on a solid scientific foundation.",
author = "Hartmann, {Nanna B.} and Thorsten H{\"u}ffer and Thompson, {Richard C.} and Martin Hassell{\"o}v and Anja Verschoor and Daugaard, {Anders E.} and Sinja Rist and Therese Karlsson and Nicole Brennholt and Matthew Cole and Herrling, {Maria P.} and Hess, {Maren C.} and Ivleva, {Natalia P.} and Lusher, {Amy L.} and Martin Wagner",
year = "2019",
doi = "10.1021/acs.est.8b05297",
language = "English",
volume = "53",
pages = "1039--1047",
journal = "Environmental Science & Technology (Washington)",
issn = "0013-936X",
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Hartmann, NB, Hüffer, T, Thompson, RC, Hassellöv, M, Verschoor, A, Daugaard, AE, Rist, S, Karlsson, T, Brennholt, N, Cole, M, Herrling, MP, Hess, MC, Ivleva, NP, Lusher, AL & Wagner, M 2019, 'Are We Speaking the Same Language? Recommendations for a Definition and Categorization Framework for Plastic Debris', Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 1039-1047. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b05297

Are We Speaking the Same Language? Recommendations for a Definition and Categorization Framework for Plastic Debris. / Hartmann, Nanna B.; Hüffer, Thorsten; Thompson, Richard C.; Hassellöv, Martin; Verschoor, Anja; Daugaard, Anders E.; Rist, Sinja; Karlsson, Therese; Brennholt, Nicole; Cole, Matthew; Herrling, Maria P.; Hess, Maren C.; Ivleva, Natalia P.; Lusher, Amy L.; Wagner, Martin.

In: Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 53, No. 3, 2019, p. 1039-1047.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Are We Speaking the Same Language? Recommendations for a Definition and Categorization Framework for Plastic Debris

AU - Hartmann, Nanna B.

AU - Hüffer, Thorsten

AU - Thompson, Richard C.

AU - Hassellöv, Martin

AU - Verschoor, Anja

AU - Daugaard, Anders E.

AU - Rist, Sinja

AU - Karlsson, Therese

AU - Brennholt, Nicole

AU - Cole, Matthew

AU - Herrling, Maria P.

AU - Hess, Maren C.

AU - Ivleva, Natalia P.

AU - Lusher, Amy L.

AU - Wagner, Martin

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - The accumulation of plastic litter in natural environments is a global issue. Concerns over potential negative impacts on the economy, wildlife, and human health provide strong incentives for improving the sustainable use of plastics. Despite the many voices raised on the issue, we lack a consensus on how to define and categorize plastic debris. This is evident for microplastics, where inconsistent size classes are used, and where the materials to be included are under debate. While this is inherent in an emerging research field, an ambiguous terminology results in confusion and miscommunication that may compromise progress in research and mitigation measures. Therefore, we need to be explicit on what exactly we consider plastic debris. Thus, we critically discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a unified terminology, propose a definition and categorization framework and highlight areas of uncertainty. Going beyond size classes, our framework includes physico-chemical properties (polymer composition, solid state, solubility) as defining criteria and size, shape, color, and origin as classifiers for categorization. Acknowledging the rapid evolution of our knowledge on plastic pollution, our framework will promote consensus-building within the scientific and regulatory community based on a solid scientific foundation.

AB - The accumulation of plastic litter in natural environments is a global issue. Concerns over potential negative impacts on the economy, wildlife, and human health provide strong incentives for improving the sustainable use of plastics. Despite the many voices raised on the issue, we lack a consensus on how to define and categorize plastic debris. This is evident for microplastics, where inconsistent size classes are used, and where the materials to be included are under debate. While this is inherent in an emerging research field, an ambiguous terminology results in confusion and miscommunication that may compromise progress in research and mitigation measures. Therefore, we need to be explicit on what exactly we consider plastic debris. Thus, we critically discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a unified terminology, propose a definition and categorization framework and highlight areas of uncertainty. Going beyond size classes, our framework includes physico-chemical properties (polymer composition, solid state, solubility) as defining criteria and size, shape, color, and origin as classifiers for categorization. Acknowledging the rapid evolution of our knowledge on plastic pollution, our framework will promote consensus-building within the scientific and regulatory community based on a solid scientific foundation.

U2 - 10.1021/acs.est.8b05297

DO - 10.1021/acs.est.8b05297

M3 - Journal article

VL - 53

SP - 1039

EP - 1047

JO - Environmental Science & Technology (Washington)

JF - Environmental Science & Technology (Washington)

SN - 0013-936X

IS - 3

ER -