“Rethink – Reduce - Recycle”

Microplastic Waste Targetted by Environmental Sector at IFAT 2018

At IFAT 2018 a broad alliance of research institutes and companies has formed, intensively looking for entry paths, avoidance strategies, possible measuring methods and procedures for microplastics.

Image © Christian Hartlmaier / Messe München GmbH

In recent years, there has been a lively discussion on the quantity, spread and risk potential of these plastic particles less than 5 mm in diameter. At IFAT 2018 a broad alliance of research institutes and companies has formed, intensively looking for entry paths, avoidance strategies, possible measuring methods and procedures for microplastics.

Technological solutions are also being demonstrated at the world’s largest trade show for environmental technology held in Munich this week.

The fair also hosts the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which launched one of the world’s largest research programs on “Plastic in the Environment”. Running until 2021, the program will invest 35 million euros in 18 joint projects with around 100 partners from science, industry, associations and municipalities.

From tyres to oceans
The booth of the Technical University (TU) of Berlin, Department of Urban Water Management will focus on a project dealing with tyre wear in the environment. According to scientists it has not been investigated yet how much tyre wear is released to the aquatic environment via road runoffs.

TU Berlin wis presenting a sampling basket for immediate roadside examination of the street runoff. The basket was developed together with the companies GKD-Gebr. Kufferath and ORI Abwassertechnik.

Additionally, the university will provide information on the current status of the OEMP project, which is dedicated to the removal of microplastics from the water cycle and which started in April 2016.

Design for recycling
“The challenges we are facing in reducing plastics in the environment are many,” said Dr. Bettina Rechenberg, the head of the Sustainable Production and Products, Waste Managemen” at the German Environment Agency .

“To solve them we need to accurately quantify the environmental releases, also those via composts and fermentation residues, and reduce them by extending the state of the art,” she added.

According to Rechenberg, product and material development must take greater account of possible releases to the environment and recyclability. For plastics to not end up in the environment but increasingly as recycled material in products, recycling plants need to deliver sufficient qualities of recycled materials.

“Independent of the current intensive research efforts, the industries should prepare for these tasks already today,” she concluded.

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