The accumulation of microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems has raised concerns because of their adverse effects on ecosystem functions and human health. Plastic waste management has become a universal problem in recent years. Hence, sustainable plastic waste management techniques are vital for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Although many reviews have focused on the occurrence and impact of micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs), there has been limited focus on the management of MNPs. This review first summarizes the ecotoxicological impacts of plastic waste sources and issues related to the sustainable management of MNPs in the environment. This paper then critically evaluates possible approaches for incorporating plastics into the circular economy in order to cope with the problem of plastics. Pollution associated with MNPs can be tackled through source reduction, incorporation of plastics into the circular economy, and suitable waste management. Appropriate infrastructure development, waste valorization, and economically sound plastic waste management techniques and viable alternatives are essential for reducing MNPs in the environment. Policymakers must pay more attention to this critical issue and implement appropriate environmental regulations to achieve environmental sustainability.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Lancaster Environment Centre Project; and the Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science and Technology Development (Project No. PJ01475801 ) from Rural Development Administration, the Republic of Korea, National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. 2021R1A2C2011734 ), and Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF- 2021R1A6A1A10045235 ).
To date, most research has addressed the distribution, transport, fate, and toxicity of MNPs in aquatic and terrestrial environments in the form of case studies (Kanhai et al., 2017; Nobre et al., 2015). Some data, such as quantity, quality, source identification, and estimates of plastics, are available for the sustainable management of MNPs. However, the problem of MNPs in the environment persists and is increasing gradually. This implies that unidentified gaps exist at the interface of research findings and practical actions, which may be due to global, regional, and local challenges, as well as the lack of infrastructure. Various studies have been conducted on sustainable plastic waste management techniques, such as source reduction, value addition, and beneficial utilization via regulatory and legislative changes. Furthermore, innovative approaches, such as plastic waste conversion to energy, biotechnological upcycling, conversion of plastic waste to value-added materials (e.g., adsorbents and catalysts), and utilization in construction materials, support the sustainable management of plastic particulates. Although many reviews have been published on the occurrence, transformation, and ecotoxicology of MNPs (Guo et al., 2020; Wang et al., 2021), the focus on innovative plastic waste management practices is currently inadequate. Hence, this review aims to provide a platform to assess the issues and prospects for sustainable management of MNPs in the environment. Moreover, this review critically explores the ecotoxicological impacts of MNPs in various environmental compartments, starting with various sources of plastics pollution. Finally, this review provides a brief knowledge of current state of the art of plastic waste management strategies, policies, and their practical implications.This work was supported by the Lancaster Environment Centre Project; and the Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science and Technology Development (Project No. PJ01475801) from Rural Development Administration, the Republic of Korea, National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. 2021R1A2C2011734), and Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2021R1A6A1A10045235).
- Circular economy
- Ecotoxicological effects
- Micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs)
- Plastic pollution
- Sustainable waste management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)