Plastic became a huge part in our every day lives. Not only has it changed the way we travel or package, but also how we eat, clean or dress. It is cheap, durable, lightweight and has changed a lot of things fort he better. Even though, the consequences of using plastics have become more and more visible.
The damage potential of synthetic substances in the environment depends especially on the type of plastic, the physical size [MANI ET AL. 2015] and the local nature of the environment [ANDRADY 2011]. In general, plastic can be classified according to it’s size [LECHNER ET AL. 2014]:
macroplastic: plastics > 25 mm
mesoplastic: plastics ≤ 25 mm and > 5 mm
microplastic: plastics ≤ 5 mm
Another special distinguishing mark is the classification of microplastic into primary and secondary microplastic. Here, a distinction is made as to whether the plastic already existed in the form of microplastic by entering the environment (primary), or whether it has been degraded into microplastic by different decay processes (secondary) [ANDRADY 2011].
Plastics in the environment are harmful in different ways and lead to negative consequences [MANI ET AL. 2015]. Especially in the aquatic environment, synthetic substances have a high potential for damage, since they can be spread worldwide by streams and rivers. [SHEAVLY 2005].