Impacts and mitigation measures of plastic waste: A critical review

Liancheng Li, Jian Zuo*, Xiaoguang Duan, Shaobin Wang, Kunsheng Hu, Ruidong Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Overwhelmed plastic waste has been gradually appreciated as a global problematic issue. Scientific efforts either dedicated to comprehending its distribution and detrimental impacts on the environment or management measures to contain it. However, there is a concern asymmetry between the knowledge of detrimental impacts of plastic waste and corresponding mitigation measures. Microplastics in the marine ecosystem is the foremost research hotspot in terms of plastic waste's detrimental impacts. Recycling plastic waste is the utmost research topic in terms of plastic waste management. Plastic pollutants derived from plastic waste contaminates the environment and ultimately threatens human health. Current measures aimed at reducing the plastic waste ended in the environment via recycling, and emphasised its retention of material value via circular economy. However, these measures did not prioritise taking direct action to mitigate the threats to human health. This review aims to bridge these two research ends of plastic waste that provides a holistic view of this problematic issue. The keywords analysis function in VOSviewer is adopted in this study to map out the state-of-the-art of existing research in plastic waste. Four research mainstreams are highlighted: (1) Environmental concerns of plastic waste in aquatic ecosystems; (2) Potential threats to human health; (3) Plastic waste reduction options and recycling methods; (4) Plastic waste thermochemical treatment. Consequently, a future research agenda is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106642
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


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