The University of Newcastle, Australia

You ripper!… how you open your packets is generating tiny microplastics

Friday, 20 March 2020

New research led by Dr Cheng Fang from the Global Centre of Environmental Remediation has revealed opening plastic packaging, such as plastic bags, chip packets and bottles, is creating tiny microplastics we might be consuming every day.

Published in Nature Scientific Reports, Dr Fang and team tested various methods of opening every-day packaging by ripping, using scissors and twisting to determine the amount of microplastics produced. They found that fibres, fragments and triangle pieces of plastic, ranging from nanometres to millimetres in size, were generated as a result.

The authors estimated that approximately ten to 30 nanograms (0.00001–0.00003 milligrams) of microplastics may be generated per 300 centimetres of plastic, depending on the opening approach and conditions of the plastic, such as stiffness, thickness or density.

“At this stage, there isn’t enough information to determine whether there are any risks as a result of this microplastic ingestion, so we hope to continue our work and determine the health implications,” Dr Fang said.


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