Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 14, pp 11022–11032 | Cite as

Surface properties of beached plastics

  • Kalliopi N. Fotopoulou
  • Hrissi K. KarapanagiotiEmail author
Research Article


Studying plastic characteristics in the marine environment is important to better understand interaction between plastics and the environment. In the present study, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephalate (PET), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) samples were collected from the coastal environment in order to study their surface properties. Surface properties such as surface functional groups, surface topography, point of zero charge, and color change are important factors that change during degradation. Eroded HDPE demonstrated an altered surface topography and color and new functional groups. Eroded PET surface was uneven, yellow, and occasionally, colonized by microbes. A decrease in Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) peaks was observed for eroded PET suggesting that degradation had occurred. For eroded PVC, its surface became more lamellar and a new FTIR peak was observed. These surface properties were obtained due to degradation and could be used to explain the interaction between plastics, microbes, and pollutants.


Marine debris Environmental degradation Surface properties Polymer surface functional groups Plastic degradation Polyethylene terephalate (PET) High density polyethylene (HDPE) Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 



We express special thanks to Ch. Kordulis, J. Kallitsis, J. Vakros, G. Bokias, and E. Kotsopoulou from the University of Patras for the helpful discussions. Part of the experiments were carried out in the laboratories of the Research groups of Catalysis and interfacial chemistry for environmental applications and of Advanced Polymers Hybrid Nanomaterials Research at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Patras.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kalliopi N. Fotopoulou
    • 1
  • Hrissi K. Karapanagioti
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of PatrasPatrasGreece

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