Keeping plastics in the loop is important for a circular plastic value chain. To make it truly circular, also plastic leakages need to be addressed. The inevitable loss of (micro)plastics to the environment needs to be harmless. Even if one would have implemented all possible measures to reduce the loss of microplastics into the environment, there will always remain some degree of littering and abbreviation of plastics as this is inherent to their applications (tires, paints, etc.).
The quantity of plastics leaking in the environment is significant, even if we would be able to reduce the percentage of leaked plastics to a small percentage. This is due to the large amount of plastics used. Most of these particles will remain in our environment for a very long time. There is growing evidence that microplastics in the open environment have adverse effects on our ecosystems and health.
To reduce harmful effects, there is a clear and urgent need for new types of plastics and plastics systems. The development of new plastics requires research investments. So far the current petroleum-based plastic industry has shown limited interest.
The Future Plastics Program is an initiative from the ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management in collaboration with the Transitieagenda Kunststoffen, Utrecht University, Twente University and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research program. The program is an effort to support the research and development of future-proof plastic solutions and eliminate microplastic pollution.
The program has started in March 2023 and currently consists of three projects. More detailed information about each program can be found below. Given its importance to accelerate the transition to new types of plastics and plastics systems, the intention is to further expand this program.