Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 19, pp 16536–16542 | Cite as

Characterization of plastic beach debris finalized to its removal: a proposal for a recycling scheme

  • Loris Pietrelli
  • Gianluca Poeta
  • Corrado Battisti
  • Maria Sighicelli
Short Research and Discussion Article


Characterization of beach debris is crucial to assess the strategy to answer questions such as recycling. With the aim to assess its use in a recycling scheme, in this note, we carried out a physical and chemical characterization of plastic litter from a pilot beach in Central Italy, using the FT-IR spectroscopy and thermoanalysis. Fourteen polymers, having mainly thermoplastic origin, were identified; among them, the most represented are polyethylene (41.7%) and polypropylene (36.9%). Chemical and mechanical degradation were clearly observed by an IR spectrum. The thermogravimetric analysis curve of the plastic blend shows the melting point at 120–140 °C, and degradation occurs almost totally in a one-step process within 300–500 °C. The high heating value of the plastic debris is 43.9 MJ kg−1. Polymer blends obtained by beach debris show mechanical properties similar to the virgin high-density polyethylene polymer. Following the beach plastic debris characterization, a recycling scheme was suggested.


Plastic debris Marine pollution Polymer characterization Plastic recycling Environmental management 



The two anonymous reviewers have improved the first draft of the manuscript, providing useful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loris Pietrelli
    • 1
  • Gianluca Poeta
    • 2
  • Corrado Battisti
    • 3
  • Maria Sighicelli
    • 1
  1. 1.ENEA, CR CasacciaRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of ScienceUniversità degli studi Roma IIIRomeItaly
  3. 3.‘Torre Flavia’ LTER (Long Term Ecological Research), Protected Areas–Regional Park ServiceRomeItaly

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