Investigating the Potential of Microplastics in Absorbing Leached Contaminants


A research project led by the University of La Laguna (ULL) headed by Professor of Analytical Chemistry Javier Hernández is examining the ability of microplastics to adsorb contaminants from leachates, fluids produced from the percolation and breakdown of organic matter in Tenerife.

The project aims to utilize these small plastic waste particles to enhance leachate treatment by exploiting their surface adsorption capacity, thus promoting their appropriate usage.

The Tenerife Cabildo has approved the project, which will be able to utilize the final outcome for agricultural purposes. It is set to progress with a budget of 939,689 euros, funding two doctoral theses, one focused on the leachate line and another on leachate matter in compost, as detailed in a press release by the corporation.

Besides improving this product, the study will also assess the presence of microplastics in compost, vermicompost, and biostabilized materials to verify the degree of contamination and assess whether plastic waste transfers to the soil when used as flooring or compost.

The project also includes plans to study and monitor the presence of microplastics on four beaches in Tenerife for a minimum of six months.

The final objective is to raise awareness of this issue, involving the publication of various articles, presentation of results at national and international research conferences, and data on pollution in educational institutions.

The research initiative is aligned with Tenerife’s commitment to research using waste and promoting a circular economy, in addition to the recent launch of a steering committee working on 9 out of 20 projects, supported by 9 million euros and involving the participation of the ULL, the European University, and ITER.

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