Virtual Microplastics










Many products go through production steps during their manufacture in which plastics are used - even if the end product contains no plastic at all. The resulting microplastics we call

virtual microplastics

.


Virtual microplastics

are created by the use of synthetic polymers in the manufacture and processing of products. This is regardless of whether the final product contains plastics or not. The useful properties of the more than 200 types of polymers and their various subcategories mean that they are used in most production processes. 370 million tons of plastics were produced and processed in 2019.

If the final product contains plastics, it is called

primary microplastics

. These are listed under the ingredients. Examples are cosmetics, cleaning agents and fertilizers. If there is decay or decomposition of plastics in the environment due to improper disposal, we speak of

secondary microplastics

.

Virtual microplastics

are not visible to consumers. As waste products of production processes, they are nevertheless present. In quantities whose dimensions are so far largely in the dark.

According to current estimates, the first production step alone (formation of the synthetic polymers/raw plastics), when plastic-based pellets, granules or powders are produced, results in more than 250,000 tons of microplastics entering the environment worldwide every year.

Virtual microplastics

are mainly discharged with industrial wastewater (process water, wash water) into the sewer system or directly into adjacent rivers. For the discharge of

virtual microplastics

there are no legal limits worldwide so far, i.e. they enter the environment uncontrolled.