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Microplastics Derived from Food Packaging Waste—Their Origin and Health Risks

Plastics are commonly used for packaging in the food industry. The most popular thermoplastic materials that have found such applications are polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), and polystyrene (PS). Unfortunately, most plastic packaging is disposable. As a consequence, significant amounts of waste are generated, entering the environment, and undergoing degradation processes. They can occur under the influence of mechanical forces, temperature, light, chemical, and biological factors. These factors can present synergistic or antagonistic effects. As a result of their action, microplastics are formed, which can undergo further fragmentation and decomposition into small-molecule compounds. During the degradation process, various additives used at the plastics’ processing stage can also be released. Both microplastics and additives can negatively affect human and animal health. Determination of the negative consequences of microplastics on the environment and health is not possible without knowing the course of degradation processes of packaging waste and their products. In this article, we present the sources of microplastics, the causes and places of their formation, the transport of such particles, the degradation of plastics most often used in the production of packaging for food storage, the factors affecting the said process, and its effects.

Publication date: 10/01/2023

Author: Kornelia Kadac-Czapska

Reference: doi: 10.3390/ma16020674

MDPI (materials)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.