Skip to content Skip to footer

Microplastics Scientific Workshop 2023: Advancing microplastics research

Plastics Europe hosted its annual Microplastics Scientific Workshop on 8 and 9 May 2023, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The workshop focused on microplastics exposure: from different sources and presence in various matrices and sample types, to modelling tools. The participants, which included researchers, industry partners, and policy regulators, had the opportunity to delve into the complexities of microplastics exposure and explore the latest updates from several ongoing research projects. Projects like Brigid, MOMENTUM, AURORA, and others shared their insights, shedding light on the multifaceted nature of the microplastics topic.

On the first day, Camilla Carteny, Microplastics Technical Manager at Plastics Europe, provided insights into the Brigid project and set the scene for the two-day workshop. She was followed by Vanessa Stadlbauer-Köllner, Project Leader at –the Center for Biomarker Research in Medicine (CB Med), who explored the complex relationship between microplastics and the human microbiome through the microONE project.

In addition, Christina Hartmann and Sebastian Köppel (Heads of Experts Team at Umweltbundesamt) presented the basis of the pilot investigation study of oral human microplastics exposure via diet, commissioned by Plastics Europe. Before the close of Day one, Ingeborg Kooter and Luke Parker, Senior Scientists at TNO, enriched the discussion with insights into microplastics characterisation.

The second day kicked off with Drea Berghorst, Managing Director at Plastics Europe Nederland, who highlighted the ongoing transition of the plastics industry towards circularity, carbon neutrality, and sustainability goals, representing a change of the paradigm. She further emphasised that the plastics industry must join forces with key actors in the regulatory, academic and societal spheres to succeed in this transition. 

Drea Berghorst warmly welcomed Nina Lange, Senior Policy Officer – Circular Economy at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, who provided an overview of the Dutch Government’s microplastics policy.  She underlined the relevance of the topic being a cross-cutting policy theme. According to Nina Lange, the Dutch approach at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is based on four pillars: adapting the EU regulation, covering the knowledge gaps, underlining the source-based approach, and fostering innovation. Her presentation was followed by Dr Elisabeth Pinter, Project Manager at OFI, who made a presentation on the exposure assessment of microplastics in the food and packaging industry and an outlook on paints and lacquers.

Day two included several presentations about key research projects such as the Horizon2020 MINAGRIS project, LABPLAS project, MOMENTUM, and many others as Cefic-LRI project: tiered strategy to assess microplastics inhalation.

The day concluded with a breakthrough session during which the participants engaged in group discussions addressing pivotal questions related to microplastic exposure. Topics ranged from identifying the primary sources of microplastics to exploring innovative initiatives for exposure reduction. This interactive session aimed to extract valuable insights and pragmatic solutions to navigate the complex landscape of microplastics, promising to yield meaningful outcomes for the ongoing discourse on environmental and human health challenges.

The Microplastics Scientific Workshop 2023 provided a platform for scientists and industry experts to come together, share their research, and foster collaboration. The event highlighted the significance of ongoing research projects and the need for interdisciplinary approaches to tackle the complex issue of microplastics. With growing awareness of the potential impact of microplastics on human health and the environment, it is crucial to continue advancing research and developing solutions towards covering existing data gaps with sound scientific knowledge.

The workshop will continue into the 2024 edition. For more information and updates on the Microplastics Scientific Workshop 2023, please see here.