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Scientific journal publication

Mapping Plastic and Plastic Additive Cycles in Coastal Countries: A Norwegian Case Study

Marhoon, Ahmed Mohamed Jaffar Marhoon A; Hernández, Miguel Las Heras; Billy, Romain Guillaume; Beat Müller, Daniel; Verones, Francesca

Publication details

Journal: Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 58, 8336–8348, 2024

Arkiv: hdl.handle.net/11250/3129389
Doi: doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.3c09176

The growing environmental consequences caused by plastic pollution highlight the need for a better understanding of plastic polymer cycles and their associated additives. We present a novel, comprehensive top-down method using inflow-driven dynamic probabilistic material flow analysis (DPMFA) to map the plastic cycle in coastal countries. For the first time, we covered the progressive leaching of microplastics to the environment during the use phase of products and modeled the presence of 232 plastic additives. We applied this methodology to Norway and proposed initial release pathways to different environmental compartments. 758 kt of plastics distributed among 13 different polymers was introduced to the Norwegian economy in 2020, 4.4 Mt was present in in-use stocks, and 632 kt was wasted, of which 15.2 kt (2.4%) was released to the environment with a similar share of macro- and microplastics and 4.8 kt ended up in the ocean. Our study shows tire wear rubber as a highly pollutive microplastic source, while most macroplastics originated from consumer packaging with LDPE, PP, and PET as dominant polymers. Additionally, 75 kt of plastic additives was potentially released to the environment alongside these polymers. We emphasize that upstream measures, such as consumption reduction and changes in product design, would result in the most positive impact for limiting plastic pollution.