2022 journal article
Ignored microplastic sources from plastic bottle recycling
SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 838.
The recovery and recycling of plastic products has increased dramatically in recent years as a strategy to achieve sustainable production and minimization of plastic pollution. However, the release of microplastics during plastic recycling has received little attention. We evaluated the generation and fate of microplastics in three typical facilities which make polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flakes using post-consumer PET bottles as raw material. Microplastics, 0.1- 5.0 mm in size, were detected in production wastewater at concentrations ranging from 23.43 ± 1.04 mg/L to 1836.37 ± 31.73 mg/L, while decreased to (8.13 ± 0.42-83.83 ± 0.93) mg/L in discharge effluent and (52,166 ± 2858-68,866 ± 2500) μg/g in sludge. Interestingly, the profiles of microplastics in samples from production wastewater, effluents, and sludge showed significant differences. Although, in all three compartments, the mass of microplastics increased, and the particle number decreased with increasing particle size. Overall, the removal ratio of total microplastics from the production wastewater was 53.47 ± 4.48% to 99.56 ± 0.02% in mass, and from 90.08 ± 0.82% to 99.56 ± 0.05% in quantity. The loss of microplastics from wastewater resulted in their concentration in sludge. Factors that influence the transfer of microplastics from wastewater to sludge should be identified and utilized to maintain a high level of removal and prevent leakage of these particles into the environment.