Stay updated on the most recent scientific literature on plastic pollution using the resources in this article.

Check Out These 6 Key Papers in Plastics Research

1. Production of plastics are still increasing

Commercial production of plastics that started around 1950’s has enjoyed exceptional growth, to reach the present global annual production of 330 million metric tonnes (Mt) for 2016 (Plastics Europe, 2017). Including the resin used in spinning textile fibres (Lenzing Group, 2016), this figure is closer to 393 Mt, a value that interestingly matches the global human biomass.

2.  Plastic is sinking

UK scientists have identified the highest levels of microplastics ever recorded on the seafloor. The contamination was found in sediments pulled up from the bottom of the Mediterranean, off Italy. The analysis, led from the University of Manchester, counted up to 1.9 million plastic pieces per square metre.

3. Plastic breaks up into microplastics

Using an oceanographic model of floating debris dispersal calibrated by our data, and correcting for wind-driven vertical mixing, we estimate a minimum of 5.25 trillion particles weighing 268,940 tons.

4. Plastic is coming from land based sources

Considerable progress has been made in determining the amount and location of plastic debris in our seas, but how much plastic actually enters them in the first place is more uncertain. Jambeck et al. combine available data on solid waste with a model that uses population density and economic status to estimate the amount of land-based plastic waste entering the ocean. Unless waste management practices are improved, the flux of plastics to the oceans could increase by an order of magnitude within the next decade.

5. Microfibres from clothing and textiles are making its way into our waterways

We estimate over 700,000 fibres could be released from an average 6kg wash load of acrylic fabric. As fibres have been reported in effluent from sewage treatment plants, our data indicates fibres released by washing of clothing could be an important source of microplastics to aquatic habitats.

6. Leveraging multi-target strategies to address plastic pollution in the context of an already stressed ocean

This paper examines the leakage of plastics and other pollutants into the ocean and the resulting impacts on marine ecosystems, human health and the economy. The paper comments on the kind of regenerative global industry that needs to be built, as well as integrated solutions to reduce all pollutants to the ocean. The role of science-based targets for measuring progress on ocean pollution are considered in a constellation of ocean pollution solutions.

Use the following to browse through latest reports:

Google Scholar

Like Web of Science, Google Scholar provides a platform to search for scholarly literature across many subject disciplines and formats, including articles, books and theses.


Web of Science

Web of Science is a website which provides subscription-based access to multiple databases that provide comprehensive citation data for many different academic disciplines. You can search Web of Science for up-to-date scientific literature on plastic pollution.


Plastic Pollution Coalition

Plastic Pollution Coalition lists relevant studies, research and reports on the ocean, environment, microplastics, issues & health hazards and chemicals on a designated web page.


Plastic Oceans

Plastic Oceans provides a webpage designated to plastic pollution research papers and reports.