Whales, waste and sea walnuts: incorporating human impacts on the marine ecosystem within life cycle impact assessment
Marine plastic pollution is a well-recognized and highly visible problem. Plastic that reach the marine system can originate either from land-based systems (e.g. mismanaged waste) or be released directly on Sea (e.g. mismanaged fishing nets). Material types and sizes vary greatly, so plastic particles can be buoyant or sink, can be macro or micro sized and have different properties when it comes to degradation and breaking down in the environment. Impacts are highly variable and range from entanglement to ingestion, as well as smothering of bottom-dwelling ecosystems.
Within LCA, impacts from plastic waste have so far been completely neglected. We will develop models for the impacts of macro- and microplastics on species richness in a spatially-differentiated way and distinguishing different types of impacts, such as entanglement and ingestion.