Chinese researchers discover plastic waste chemically bonded to rocks

Read the full story at Packaging Insights.

Chinese researchers at Tsinghua University, Beijing, have found plastic films chemically bonded to rocks, marking a discovery of a new type of plastic material in the environment. 

Deyi Hou, one of the study’s authors and soil and groundwater scientist, said the research is the first to uncover chemical bonds between plastic and rocks in the environment. 

The plastic rock complexes form when debris irreversibly absorbs into a rock after a flood. The complexes comprise LDPE or PP films stuck onto quartz-dominated mineral matrices.

The study writes that “future research should evaluate this phenomenon regarding ecosystem fluxes, fate and transport and impacts of plastic pollution,” indicating that more research is needed to draw concrete conclusions about the plastic rocks. 

The study was published in Environmental Science and Technology. The source of the plastic waste was accumulated around a creek in Hechi City, China. The plastics discovered were PP and PE films.

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