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Plastic Waste Surface Degradation Rate Proposed in New Study

In a new study, Professor Sangwon Suh calculates an answer to the question: how long does it take plastics to degrade in the environment?

Mar 4 2020 Sangwon Suh

Plastic waste bits sorted by color on the sand

Plastic bits arranged by color on the sand.

What do we know about the time needed for plastics to degrade in the environment?

Very little.

In a new study recently published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, Bren professor Sangwon Suh and colleagues ventured to find out the answer to this question.

In an editorial published by Suh, he details their journey to synthesize the evidences found in peer review literature, which took more than a year to complete. They found that shapes and thickness of plastic specimens used in studies vary widely, and set out to develop a method that translates disparate measures into a commensurate metric: the Specific Surface Degradation Rate (SSDR).

Their study highlights the urgent need for additional data on plastics degradation rates based on standard metrics and experimental conditions. 

Read Suh's article on LinkedIn

Paper: Degradation Rates of Plastics in the Environment, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering

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