Vulcanized rubber, due to its superior mechanical properties, has long been used in various industries, especially automotive. The rubber industry has evolved and expanded over the years to meet the increasing global demands for tires. Today tires consist of about 19% natural rubber and 24% synthetic rubber, while plastic polymer and metal, filler and additives make up the rest. Over 1.6 billion new tires are produced annually and around 1 billion waste tires are generated. Tires are extensively designed with several complex processes to make them virtually indestructible. Since tire rubber does not decompose easily, their disposal at the end of service life creates a monumental environmental impact. However, waste tire rubber (WTR) consist of valuable rubber hydrocarbon, making its recovery or regeneration highly desirable. The conventional recovery method of WTR tends to produce undesirable products due to the destruction of the polymeric chain and exponentially degenerates the vulcanizates' physical properties. Since then, multiple devulcanization processes were introduced to effectively and selectively cleave vulcanizate's crosslinks while retaining the polymeric networks. Different devulcanization methods such as chemical, mechanical, irradiation, biological and their combinations that have been explored until now are reviewed here. Besides, an overview of the latest development of devulcanization by ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents are also described. While such devulcanization technique provides new sustainability pathway(s) for WTR, the generated devulcanizate also possesses comparable physical properties to that of virgin products. This further opens the possibility of novel circular economic opportunities worldwide.
The occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in saltwater bodies is relatively well studied, but nothing is known about their presence in most of the commercial salts that are widely consumed by humans across the globe. Here, we extracted MP-like particles larger than 149 μm from 17 salt brands originating from 8 different countries followed by the identification of their polymer composition using micro-Raman spectroscopy. Microplastics were absent in one brand while others contained between 1 to 10 MPs/Kg of salt. Out of the 72 extracted particles, 41.6% were plastic polymers, 23.6% were pigments, 5.50% were amorphous carbon, and 29.1% remained unidentified. The particle size (mean ± SD) was 515 ± 171 μm. The most common plastic polymers were polypropylene (40.0%) and polyethylene (33.3%). Fragments were the primary form of MPs (63.8%) followed by filaments (25.6%) and films (10.6%). According to our results, the low level of anthropogenic particles intake from the salts (maximum 37 particles per individual per annum) warrants negligible health impacts. However, to better understand the health risks associated with salt consumption, further development in extraction protocols are needed to isolate anthropogenic particles smaller than 149 μm.
Plastics are synthetic polymers known for their outstanding durability and versatility, and have replaced traditional materials in many applications. Unfortunately, their unique traits ensure that they pose a major threat to the environment. While literature on freshwater microplastic contamination has grown over the recent years, research undertaken in rapidly developing countries, where plastic production and use are increasing dramatically, has lagged behind that in other parts of the world. In the South East Asia (SEA) region, basic information on levels of contamination is very limited and, as a consequence, the risk to human and ecological health remains hard to assess. This review synthesises what is currently known about microplastic contamination of freshwater ecosystems in SEA, with a particular focus on Malaysia. The review 1) summarises published studies that have assessed levels of contamination in freshwater systems in SEA, 2) discusses key sources and transport pathways of microplastic in freshwaters, 3) outlines what is known of the impacts of microplastic on freshwater organisms, and 4) identifies key knowledge gaps related to our understanding of the transport, fate and effects of microplastic.
An optical code generating device for a portable optical access-card system was constructed using the plastic optical fibre (POF) waveguide coupler. The newly constructed device provided output light intensities which were used as optical codes in a portable optical access-card system. The construction of a basic 1 × 2 waveguide design combined two major components which were the asymmetric Y-junction splitter and the linear taper. A hollow waveguide structure was utilized as it provided more flexibility in guiding light rays. A basic 1 × 2 waveguide coupler was designed using the CAD tool and then the ray was traced using the non-sequential ray tracing tool. A linear relationship between the tap-off ratio and the waveguide tap-width enabled a higher-level hollow waveguide coupler to be designed using the simple cascading technique. Construction of a 1 × 4 and higher level waveguide coupler was easily realized using the basic 1 × 2 waveguide coupler design together with a simple cascading technique.
Cupriavidus sp. USMAA1020, USMAA2-4, and USMAHM13 are capable of producing polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). This biopolymer is an alternative solution to synthetic plastics, whereby polyhydroxyalkanoate synthase is the key enzyme involved in PHA biosynthesis. Here, we report the complete genomes of three Cupriavidus sp. strains: USMAA1020, USMAA2-4, and USMAHM13.
The contamination of aquatic environments with microplastics (MPs) has spurred an unprecedented interest among scientific communities to investigate their impacts on biota. Despite the rapid growth in the number of studies on the aquatic toxicology of MPs, controversy over the fate and biological impacts of MPs is increasingly growing mainly due to the absence of standardized laboratory bioassays. Given the complex features of MPs, such as the diversity of constituent polymers, additives, shapes and sizes, as well as continuous changes in the particle buoyancy as a result of fouling and defouling processes, it is necessary to modify conventional bioassay protocols before employing them for MP toxicity testings. Moreover, several considerations including quantification of chemicals on/in the MP particles, choice of test organisms, approaches for renewing the test solution, aggregation prevention, stock solution preparation, and units used to report MP concentration in the test solution should be taken into account. This critical review suggests some important strategies to help conduct environmentally-relevant MP bioassays.
The utilization of plastics has now become a threat to the environment as it generates microplastic particles (<5 mm in size). The increasing studies on the occurrence of microplastics in different environmental compartments have raised concern about the potential effects on ecosystems and living organisms. Of these, numerous studies are focused on marine environments. The occurrence of microplastics is recently extended to the freshwater environments, including river systems, streams, lakes, pond, creek, and estuarine rivers. This paper overviews the current knowledge and research findings on the occurrence of microplastics in water, sediment, and fish in freshwater environments. The review also covers the adopted methodology and impacts of microplastics to the ecosystem. Future perspectives are discussed as well in this review.
Concerns about microplastic (MP) pollution arise from the rafting potential of these durable particles which potentially propagate harmful chemicals and bacteria across wide spatial gradients. While many studies have been conducted in the marine environment, knowledge of MPs in coastal and freshwater systems is limited. For this study, we exposed two MPs (polyethylene terephthalate and polylactic acid) to the undisturbed peat-draining Maludam River in Malaysia, for 6 months. The microbial communities on these MPs and the surrounding water were sequenced by MiSeq, while the genetic responses of these communities were assessed by GeoChip 5.0S. Microbial communities were dominated by the phyla Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria and Actinobacteria. Metabolic processes involved with carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, metal homeostasis, organic remediation and virulence had significantly different gene expression among the communities on MPs and in the surrounding water. Our study is the first to look at changes in gene expression of whole plastisphere communities.
In this study, we developed a method for directly determining the energy deposited over the entire energy range by monitoring the light output from a plastic scintillator under gamma irradiation. The relative light output was analyzed based on Birks' semi-empirical formula for ionization to obtain the quenching parameter as kB = 0.016 ± 0.0004 g cm-2 MeV-1. Comparisons of experimental and calculated results for the light output spectra showed that considering the quenching effect, background subtraction, source casing, and energy sampling were essential for achieving good agreement.
Nano/microplastics (NPs/MPs), a tiny particle of plastic pollution, are known as one of the most important environmental threats to marine ecosystems. Wastewater treatment plants can act as entrance routes for NPs/MPs to the aquatic environment as they breakdown of larger fragments of the plastic component during the treatment process; therefore, it is necessary to remove NPs/MPs during the wastewater treatment process. In this study, understanding the effect of water shear force on the fragmentation of larger size MPs into smaller MPs and NPs and their removal by air flotation and nano-ferrofluid (i.e., magnetite and cobalt ferrite particle as a coagulant) and membrane processes were investigated as a proof-of-concept study. It is found that a two-blade mechanical impeller could fragment MPs from 75, 150 and 300 μm into mean size NPs/MPs of 0.74, 1.14 and 1.88 μm, respectively. Results showed that the maximum removal efficiency of polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride and polyester was 85, 82 and 69%, respectively, in the air flotation process. Increasing the dose of behentrimonium chloride surfactant from 2 to 10 mg/L improved the efficiency of the air flotation process for NPs/MPs removal. It is also found that the removal efficiency of NPs/MPs by the air flotation system depends on solution pH, size, and types of NPs/MPs. This study also found a less significant removal efficiency of NPs/MPs by both types of ferrofluid used in this study with an average removal of 43% for magnetite and 55% for cobalt ferrite. All three plastics tested had similar removal efficiency by the nano-ferrofluid particles, meaning that this removal technique does not rely on the plastic component type. Among all the process tested, both ultrafiltration and microfiltration membrane processes were highly effective, removing more than 90% of NPs/MPs fragment particles. Overall, this study has confirmed the effectiveness of using air flotation and the membrane process to remove NPs/MPs from wastewater.
Microplastic pollution is a prevalent and serious problem in marine environments. These particles have a detrimental impact on marine ecosystems. They are harmful to marine organisms and are known to be a habitat for toxic microorganisms. Marine microplastics have been identified in beach sand, the seafloor and also in marine biota. Although research investigating the presence of microplastics in various marine environments have increased across the years, studies in Southeast Asia are still relatively limited. In this paper, 36 studies on marine microplastic pollution in Southeast Asia were reviewed and discussed, focusing on microplastics in beach and benthic sediments, seawater and marine organisms. These studies have shown that the presence of fishing harbours, aquaculture farms, and tourism result in an increased abundance of microplastics. The illegal and improper disposal of waste from village settlements and factories also contribute to the high abundance of microplastics observed. Hence, it is crucial to identify the hotspots of microplastic pollution, for assessment and mitigation purposes. Future studies should aim to standardize protocols and quantification, to allow for better quantification and assessment of the levels of microplastic contamination for monitoring purposes.
The gravity of the impending threats posed by microplastics (MPs) pollution in the environment cannot be over-emphasized. Several research studies continue to stress how important it is to curb the proliferation of these small plastic particles with different physical and chemical properties, especially in aquatic environments. While several works on how to monitor, detect and remove MPs from the aquatic environment have been published, there is still a lack of explicit regulatory framework for mitigation of MPs globally. A critical review that summarizes recent advances in MPs research and emphasizes the need for regulatory frameworks devoted to MPs is presented in this paper. These frameworks suggested in this paper may be useful for reducing the proliferation of MPs in the environment. Based on all reviewed studies related to MPs research, we discussed the occurrence of MPs by identifying the major types and sources of MPs in water bodies; examined the recent ways of detecting, monitoring, and measuring MPs routinely to minimize projected risks; and proposed recommendations for consensus regulatory actions that will be effective for MPs mitigation.
In-situ bioremediation of mangrove soil contaminated with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polystyrene (PS) microplastics was investigated using indigenous microbial consortium with adequate capacity to degrade the plastics. Eight (8) bacteria were isolated from plastic/microplastic-inundated mangrove soil and screened for the ability to degrade PET and PS microplastics. Optical density at 600 nm and colony forming unit counts were measured to evaluate the growth response of the microbes in the presence of PS and PET microplastics at different times of exposure. Structural and surface changes that occurred post biodegradation on the microplastics were determined through EDS and SEM analysis. The obtained results demonstrated the elongation and disappearance of peaks, suggesting that the microbial consortium could modify both types of microplastics. The overall results of the microplastic degradation showed varied degrees of weight loss after 90 experimental days, with the treated plot recorded 18% weight loss. The augmented soil was increased in the concentrations of Si S, and Fe and decreased in the concentrations of C, O, Na, Mg, Al, Cl, and K after bioremediation.
The presence of microplastics (MP) and nanoplastics (NP) in the environment poses significant hazards towards microorganisms, humans, animals and plants. This paper is focused on recent literature studies and patents discussing the removal process of these plastic pollutants. Microplastics and nanoplastics can be quantified by counting, weighing, absorbance and turbidity and can be further analyzed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Raman spectroscopy, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and Raman tweezers. Mitigation methods reported are categorized depending on the removal characteristics: (i) Filtration and separation method: Filtration and separation, electrospun nanofiber membrane, constructed wetlands; (ii) Capture and surface attachment method: coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation (CFS), electrocoagulation, adsorption, magnetization, micromachines, superhydrophobic materials and microorganism aggregation; and (iii) Degradation method: photocatalytic degradation, microorganism degradation and thermal degradation; where removal efficiency between 58 and 100% were reported. As these methods are significantly distinctive, the parameters which affect the MP/NP removal performance e.g., pH, type of plastics, presence of interfering chemicals or ions, surface charges etc. are also discussed. 42 granted international patents related to microplastics and nanoplastics removal are also reviewed where the majority of these patents are focused on separation or filtration devices. These devices are efficient for microplastics up to 20 μm but may be ineffective for nanoplastics or fibrous plastics. Several patents were found to focus on methods similar to literature studies e.g., magnetization, CFS, biofilm and microorganism aggregation; with the addition of another method: thermal degradation.
The widespread occurrence of microplastic has invaded the environment to an extent that it appears to be present throughout the globe. This review investigated the global abundance and distribution of microplastics in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Furthermore, the issues and challenges have been addressed for better findings in microplastics studies. Findings revealed that the accumulation of microplastics varies geographically, with locations, hydrodynamic conditions, environmental pressure, and time. From this review, it is crucial that proper regulations are proposed and implemented in order to reduce the occurrence of microplastics in the aquatic environment. Without appropriate law and regulations, microplastic pollution will eventually threaten human livelihood.
Marine plastic pollution (MPP) is an urgent environmental and socio-economic problem. MPP amounts to 300 million tons annually, originates largely from land-based sources and severely impacts marine ecosystem, harms livelihoods and causes costs for businesses and governments. Plastics permeate the whole width and depth of seas and oceans, near well-developed coastal zones and equally in remotest corners. This undermines economic and social value of the oceans, particularly in terms of fisheries productivity and tourism. The G20 members, responsible for about two-thirds of global plastic waste, recognize the problem and undertake preventive measures - individually and collectively. Yet, are there efficient, effective and sufficient given the urgency of MPP and the contribution of G20 countries. This article highlights existing policies and identifies further policy options using a custom framework for MPP policy that merges Circular Economy (CE) and life-cycle perspectives.
The nature of micro- and nanoplastics and their harmful consequences has drawn significant attention in recent years in the context of environmental protection. Therefore, this paper aims to provide an overview of the existing literature related to this evolving subject, focusing on the documented human health and marine environment impacts of micro- and nanoplastics and including a discussion of the economic challenges and strategies to mitigate this waste problem. The study highlights the micro- and nanoplastics distribution across various trophic levels of the food web, and in different organs in infected animals which is possible due to their reduced size and their lightweight, multi-coloured and abundant features. Consequently, micro- and nanoplastics pose significant risks to marine organisms and human health in the form of cytotoxicity, acute reactions, and undesirable immune responses. They affect several sectors including aquaculture, agriculture, fisheries, transportation, industrial sectors, power generation, tourism, and local authorities causing considerable economic losses. This can be minimised by identifying key sources of environmental plastic contamination and educating the public, thus reducing the transfer of micro- and nanoplastics into the environment. Furthermore, the exploitation of the potential of microorganisms, particularly those from marine origins that can degrade plastics, could offer an enhanced and environmentally sound approach to mitigate micro- and nanoplastics pollution.
The global economy is threatened by the depletion of fossil resources and fluctuations in fossil fuel prices, and thus it is necessary to exploit sustainable energy sources. Carbon-neutral fuels including bio-oil obtained from biomass pyrolysis can act as alternatives to fossil fuels. Co-pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass and plastic is efficient to upgrade the quality of bio-oil because plastic facilitates deoxygenation. However, catalysts are required to produce bio-oil that is suitable for potential use as transportation fuel. This review presents an overview of recent advances in catalytic co-pyrolysis of biomass and plastic from the perspective of chemistry, catalyst, and feedstock pretreatment. Additionally, this review introduces not only recent research results of acid catalysts for catalytic co-pyrolysis, but also recent approaches that utilize base catalysts. Future research directions are suggested for commercially feasible co-pyrolysis process.
This paper presents the research landscape on microplastics and nanoplastics (M/NPs) in global food webs based on a bibliometric analysis of 330 publications published in 2009-2019 extracted from Web of Science. The publications increased tremendously since 2013. Marine Pollution Bulletin is one of the top productive journals for this topic. The publication landscape related to M/NPs in global food webs, as interdisciplinary research, is highly dependent on the funding availability. The high productivities of England, China, USA and European countries are attributed to the funding from the agencies at regional or national levels. Keyword analysis reveals the shift of research hotspots from investigations on M/NPs absorbed by various organisms in the ecosystems to studies on the trophic transfer of M/NPs and sorbed contaminants in the food webs and their associated adverse impacts. Funding agencies play important roles in leading the future development of this topic.
Recycling is one of the most efficient methods for environmental friendly waste management. Among municipal wastes, plastics are the most common material that can be easily recycled and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is one of its major types. PET material is used in consumer goods packaging such as drinking bottles, toiletry containers, food packaging and many more. Usually, a recycling process is tailored to a specific material for optimal purification and decontamination to obtain high grade recyclable material. The quantity and quality of the sorting process are limited by the capacity of human workers that suffer from fatigue and boredom. Several automated sorting systems have been proposed in the literature that include using chemical, proximity and vision sensors. The main advantages of vision based sensors are its environmentally friendly approach, non-intrusive detection and capability of high throughput. However, the existing methods rely heavily on deterministic approaches that make them less accurate as the variations in PET plastic waste appearance are too high. We proposed a probabilistic approach of modeling the PET material by analyzing the reflection region and its surrounding. Three parameters are modeled by Gaussian and exponential distributions: color, size and distance of the reflection region. The final classification is made through a supervised training method of likelihood ratio test. The main novelty of the proposed method is the probabilistic approach in integrating various PET material signatures that are contaminated by stains under constant lighting changes. The system is evaluated by using four performance metrics: precision, recall, accuracy and error. Our system performed the best in all evaluation metrics compared to the benchmark methods. The system can be further improved by fusing all neighborhood information in decision making and by implementing the system in a graphics processing unit for faster processing speed.