Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Reproducible pipelines and readiness levels in plastic monitoring

Flexible decision-making tools are needed to support action plans for plastics and other pollutants. Reproducible Analytical Pipelines (RAPs) and technological readiness levels (TRLs) will enable systematic validation and global harmonization of plastic pollution monitoring methods.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: RAPs and TRLs in plastic monitoring.


  1. Wagner, M. in Microplastic in the Environment: Pattern and Process (Ed. Bank, M. S.) 333–352 (Springer International Publishing, 2022).

  2. Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme, End Plastic Pollution: Towards an International Legally Binding Instrument (UNEP, 2022);

  3. Baker, M. 1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility. Nature 533, 452–454 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Cowger, W. et al. Reporting guidelines to increase the reproducibility and comparability of research on microplastics. Appl. Spectrosc. 74, 1066–1077 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Plesser, H. E. Reproducibility vs. replicability: a brief history of a confused terminology. Front. Neuroinform. 11, 76 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Tanca, A. et al. A straightforward and efficient analytical pipeline for metaproteome characterization. Microbiome 2, 49 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Schapiro, D. et al. MCMICRO: a scalable, modular image-processing pipeline for multiplexed tissue imaging. Nat. Methods 19, 311–315 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. White, R. et al. Technology development for the early detection of plant pests: a framework for assessing Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) in environmental science. J. Plant Dis. Prot. 29, 1249–1261 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Héder, M. From NASA to EU: the evolution of the TRL scale in Public Sector Innovation. Innov. J. 22, 1–23 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Defining the Most Representative Species for IMAP Candidate Indicator 24 (UNEP, 2018);

Download references


This publication is part of a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Coordination and Support Action programme under grant agreement 101003805 (EUROqCHARM). This output reflects only the author’s view and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stefano Aliani.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Aliani, S., Lusher, A., Galgani, F. et al. Reproducible pipelines and readiness levels in plastic monitoring. Nat Rev Earth Environ 4, 290–291 (2023).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing