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Searching alternative polymers and plastic additives with lower environmental impact on aquatic ecosystems. (CTM2016-77945-C3)

Partners: University of Vigo (leader), University of A Coruña, AIMPLAS Project

Project Coordinator: Prof. Ricardo Beiras

Project Duration: 36 Months from 30/12/2016

Total Project Cost: 403.560 €

Plastics are synthetic polymers extremely useful in all fields of human activities so that its global production has now reached 300 million tons per year, of which a good part finds its final destination in aquatic ecosystems. Although polymers are completely harmless, plastic objects carry in its composition to confer them the desired properties hundreds of different chemical additives (plasticizers, flame retardants, impact modifiers, stabilizers against ultraviolet radiation and microorganisms, etc.), some of which present controversy because of their toxic effects on organisms and especially on the endocrine system. These additives are not covalently linked to the polymer chains and leach into the aquatic environment easily during the aging processes of plastic subject to environmental conditions after dumping in water.

The ARPA-ACUA project aims to contribute to the selection of environmentally friendly alternatives regarding the chemical composition of such polymers in order to minimize the environmental impact of these materials and minimize potential adverse effects on the environment and health.

Leaflet: Parámetros de Toxicidad de aditivos Químicos de Plásticos [pdf] (es)



Valorization of plastic waste materials recovered from the sea: characterization, applications and product development (RepescaPlas) 2017-2018.

Lead Partner: AIMPLAS (Instituto Tecnológico del Plástico de Valencia)

Funding Agency: Fundación Biodiversidad – Programa Pleamar

Partners: Fundación Global Nature, Asociación Vertidos Cero, Universidade de Vigo y Cofradía de Pescadores de Gandía.

The recompilation of information about these materials and the analysis of the role they have in our lives make the increase of people’s awareness possible, as well as the reduction of plastic impact in the environment. For this reason, scientific and technological projects rise up to reach that aim.

The main pourpose is to know better the type of marine debris we found and reduce its impact. This way, after recovering the marine debris from the open sea, they intend to reincorporate the materials into the production chain, that is to say, to get the valorisation of those plastic objects, being a benefit for the circular economy. This proceeding include several phases: collecting and characterisation (by type, nature and ecotoxicity), valuation and spreading of the results obtained.

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EPHEMARE Project deals with the ecotoxicological effect of Microplastics (MPs) in marine ecosystems.

Lead Partner: University of Vigo

Project Duration: 36 Months

Total Project Cost: 3.154.000€

Plastics are nowadays ubiquitous in the environment, and their global production continues to rise. They are not biodegradable, but undergo weathering that renders their fragments more fragile, and combined to hydrodynamics produce increasingly small particles termed microplastics (MPs), within the micron to mm range, readily taken up by suspension and sediment feeders, and incorporated into the trophic webs. MPs can be toxic per se due to additives used by industry as colorants, plasticizers, flame retardants, etc. In addition, they concentrate hydrophobic chemicals (persistent pollutants (PPs) found in extremely low concentrations in seawater.

EPHEMARE, targets (1) the uptake, tissue distribution, final fate and effects of MPs in organisms representative of pelagic and benthic ecosystems, and (2) the potential role of MPs as vectors of model PPs that readily adsorb to their surfaces.

Final Report: [pdf]

Leaflet: [pdf]

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IMPACTA Project deals with the impact of micro-plastics, regulated and emerging contaminants in the marine ecosystem and with the establishment of environmental quality criteria.

Lead Partner: IEO

Project Duration: 2 years

Total Project Cost: 482.790€

The sea suffers a massive influx of synthetic substances as a result of human activity, especially in coastal areas. Just a small part of these substances is under surveillance (metals, organochlorine compounds, etc.), and it is essential to identify what other contaminants may be causing adverse effects on the ecosystem. Plastics are of particular concern due to their high persistence in the marine environment (450 years). Each year 6.4 million tons of garbage end up in the oceans (United Nations), 83% being plastics (ICC) which form over the time very small particles called micro-plastics which are incorporated into the food chain. Although plastic is inert many additives used for strength, or color (bisphenol A phthalates, cadmium ...) are toxic. Also micro-plastics can concentrate contaminants in the environment and act as transfer vectors into the food chain.

The IMPACTA project aims to make a first assessment of the occurrence, distribution and impact of micro-plastics and emerging pollutants in coastal sediments of the Iberian Peninsula.

Brochure: Enviromental Quality Criteria in Marine Water [pdf] (es)

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Team Minho Project deals with the transfer tools for the assessment, management, and environmental education in estuaries.

Lead Partner: University of Vigo

Project Duration: 36 months

Total Project Cost: 1.032.460,32€

TEAM-Minho gathers scientists and water the hidraulic public administrations from both sides of Minho River in order to develop common tools for the coordinated implementation of the Water Framework Directive in its estuary. At the same time, the project aims to promote citizen participation in the management and conservation of aquatic ecosystems.

The essence of the proyect is summarized in the following two key ideas:

  1. Two sides a unique estuary. Minho River Minho needs cooperation between Spain and Portugal at all levels to achieve the common goal of conservation and sustainable use of the environment. Changes adversity biodiversity. The involvement of society in the conservation of aquatic ecosystems is essential. TEAM-Minho reminds society that our behavior towards the estuary is reflected in its condition
  2. Shift adversity by biodiversity. The involvement of society in the conservation of aquatic ecosystems is essential. TEAM-Minho reminds society that our behavior towards the estuary is reflected in its conservation conditions.

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