AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, is now implementing the MICROPLASTICS_2020 Project, funded by the Valencian Institute of Business Competitiveness (IVACE). The aim of the project is to develop a standardized methodology to detect, identify and quantify microplastics (plastic fragments of 5 mm or less in size) to monitor their presence in the different stages of industrial processes.
Because no standardized methodologies are currently available to analyse the presence of these materials, AIMPLAS is developing an innovative method to provide support to companies in the Spanish Autonomous Community of Valencia so they can improve their environmental safety and anticipate future regulations on the use and production of microplastics in products and the generation of industrial effluents. The level of analytical technology and knowledge required to perform such analysis is so high that companies must seek the help of experts at highly specialized centres. Thanks to this project, companies will have a greater capacity to take action on their materials and processes to reduce the possible presence and production of microplastics, and they will be better prepared to anticipate future legislation.
Restrictions on the presence, use and production of microplastics in industrial processes should involve defining protocols for analysing microplastics and standardizing these protocols. Companies should be very careful about selecting suitable starting materials (by taking into account impurities, by-products and contaminants), and about all processing stages, from the starting material to the final article. In each stage, they must make decisions based on producing, introducing or eliminating microplastics. A standardized study on the presence and potential production of microplastics in the different stages of each industrial process will help prevent microplastics from forming and eliminate them when possible.
Partnership and transfer to companies
The MICROPLASTICS_2020 Project is developing an innovative methodology that requires a high level of R&D, given that no standardized methods are currently available to detect, identify and quantify microplastics in different media. For AIMPLAS, this project is the starting point of a new line of research in which companies in the Autonomous Community of Valencia will be able to participate by contributing case studies and information on their production processes. The following companies are collaborating on the project: AGUA MINERAL SAN BENEDETTO, GLOBAL OMNIUM and ACTECO PRODUCTOS Y SERVICIOS.
This cooperation with companies will enable the technology centre to give continuity to this line of research and consolidate it through the free transfer of results to the companies collaborating on technical aspects and also to the rest of the industry in the form of public reports and deliverables. This will ultimately benefit Autonomous Community of Valencia consumers, as well as the environment.
This project is funded by the Valencia Regional Government’s Ministry for Sustainable Economy, Production Sectors, Trade and Employment through grants from IVACE, and is co-funded by the European Union (ERDF) through the Spanish Autonomous Community of Valencia ERDF Operational Programme (2014-2020). This funding is targeted at technology centres in the Valencia Region to develop non-economic R&D projects in collaboration with companies in 2020.