The threat posed by plastic in the environment is poorly characterized due to uncertainties and unknowns about sources, transport, transformation and removal processes, and the properties of the plastic pollution itself. Plastic creates a footprint of particulate pollution with a diversity of composition, size and shape, and a halo of chemicals. In this Perspective, we argue that process-based mass-balance models could provide a platform to synthesize knowledge about plastic pollution as a function of its measurable intrinsic properties.
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Funding to support this work came from the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) through the Long-Range Research Initiative LRI-ECO56—UTOPIA: Development of a multimedia unit world open-source model for microplastic.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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MacLeod, M., Domercq, P., Harrison, S. et al. Computational models to confront the complex pollution footprint of plastic in the environment. Nat Comput Sci 3, 486–494 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43588-023-00445-y