Microplastics Removal from a Plastic Recycling Industrial Wastewater Using Sand Filtration
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionWater. 2023, 15 (5), 896. 10.3390/w15050896
The removal of microplastic from wastewater collected from a plastic recycling facility was investigated, using a laboratory scale sand-filter. Wastewater samples were collected before and after the onsite sand-filter, for characterization for different polymer types, sizes, and shapes. A considerable difference in the characteristics and concentrations of microplastics was observed before and after onsite sand-filtration, demonstrating differences in the source of microplastics and/or potential contamination of the sand-filter operated at the facility. The distribution of different polymers showed polyethylene and polypropylene to be the main microplastics present in the wastewater samples. In the next stage, the samples were passed through a laboratory scale sand-filter column, to investigate the removal of microplastics. The laboratory scale sand-filter showed high efficiency (up to 100%) in removing microplastics of all polymer types, shapes, and sizes, demonstrating the effectiveness of this well-developed, and widely adopted, method for the removal of microplastics from wastewater. As the green shift and circular economy will result in more plastics being recycled, this study demonstrates the need for quantification of microplastic in effluents from plastic recycling facilities. This is important for devising appropriate microplastic removal strategies, and meeting potential discharge regulations that may come into effect in the future.