Plastics - Environmental aspects - State of knowledge and methodologies (ISO/TR 21960:2020)

This document summarizes current scientific literature on the occurrence of macroplastics and microplastics, in the environment and biota. It gives an overview of testing methods, including sampling from various environmental matrix, sample preparation and analysis. Further, chemical and physical testing methods for the identification and quantification of plastics are described.
This document gives recommendations for three steps necessary for the standardization of methods towards harmonized procedures for sampling, sample preparation and analysis.
This document does not apply indoor and health related aspects.
NOTE    The collection of plastics or microplastics in the environment by citizen social monitoring projects is not in the scope of this document. Although such projects can help sensitize the society to environmental problems and can even reduce the entry and presence of plastics in the environment, this monitoring concept is not considered suitable for a robustly representative and scientific analysis of microplastics in the environment via standardization.

Kunststoffe in der Umwelt - Aktueller Wissensstand und Methodik (ISO/TR 21960:2020)

Plastiques - Aspects liés à l'environnement - État des connaissances et méthodologies (ISO/TR 21960:2020)

Polimerni materiali - Okoljski vidiki - Stanje znanja in metodologije (ISO/TR 21960:2020)

General Information

Status
Published
Publication Date
03-Mar-2020
Current Stage
6060 - Definitive text made available (DAV) - Publishing
Due Date
04-Mar-2020
Completion Date
04-Mar-2020

Buy Standard

Technical report
-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020 - BARVE na PDF-str 17,18,19,37
English language
50 pages
sale 10% off
Preview
sale 10% off
Preview
e-Library read for
1 day
Technical report
-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020 - BARVE na PDF-str 13,14,15,33
English language
47 pages
sale 10% off
Preview
sale 10% off
Preview
e-Library read for
1 day

Standards Content (sample)

SLOVENSKI STANDARD
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
01-maj-2020
Polimerni materiali - Okoljski vidiki - Stanje znanja in metodologije (ISO/TR
21960:2020)
Plastics - Environmental aspects - State of knowledge and methodologies (ISO/TR
21960:2020)

Kunststoffe in der Umwelt - Aktueller Wissensstand und Methodik (ISO/TR 21960:2020)

Plastiques - Aspects liés à l'environnement - État des connaissances et méthodologies

(ISO/TR 21960:2020)
Ta slovenski standard je istoveten z: CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ICS:
13.020.01 Okolje in varstvo okolja na Environment and
splošno environmental protection in
general
83.080.01 Polimerni materiali na Plastics in general
splošno
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020 en,fr,de

2003-01.Slovenski inštitut za standardizacijo. Razmnoževanje celote ali delov tega standarda ni dovoljeno.

---------------------- Page: 1 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
---------------------- Page: 2 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
CEN ISO/TR 21960
TECHNICAL REPORT
RAPPORT TECHNIQUE
March 2020
TECHNISCHER BERICHT
ICS 13.020.01; 83.080.01
English Version
Plastics - Environmental aspects - State of knowledge and
methodologies (ISO/TR 21960:2020)

Plastiques - Aspects liés à l'environnement - État des Kunststoffe in der Umwelt - Aktueller Wissensstand

connaissances et méthodologies (ISO/TR 21960:2020) und Methodik (ISO/TR 21960:2020)

This Technical Report was approved by CEN on 15 February 2020. It has been drawn up by the Technical Committee CEN/TC

249.

CEN members are the national standards bodies of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,

Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway,

Poland, Portugal, Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and

United Kingdom.
EUROPEAN COMMITTEE FOR STANDARDIZATION
COMITÉ EUROPÉEN DE NORMALISATION
EUROPÄISCHES KOMITEE FÜR NORMUNG
CEN-CENELEC Management Centre: Rue de la Science 23, B-1040 Brussels

© 2020 CEN All rights of exploitation in any form and by any means reserved Ref. No. CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020 E

worldwide for CEN national Members.
---------------------- Page: 3 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020 (E)
Contents Page

European foreword ....................................................................................................................................................... 3

---------------------- Page: 4 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020 (E)
European foreword

This document (CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020) has been prepared by Technical Committee ISO/TC 61

"Plastics" in collaboration with Technical Committee CEN/TC 249 “Plastics” the secretariat of which is

held by NBN.

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of

patent rights. CEN shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights.

Endorsement notice

The text of ISO/TR 21960:2020 has been approved by CEN as CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020 without any

modification.
---------------------- Page: 5 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
---------------------- Page: 6 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
TECHNICAL ISO/TR
REPORT 21960
First edition
2020-02
Plastics — Environmental aspects —
State of knowledge and methodologies
Reference number
ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)
ISO 2020
---------------------- Page: 7 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)
COPYRIGHT PROTECTED DOCUMENT
© ISO 2020

All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, or required in the context of its implementation, no part of this publication may

be reproduced or utilized otherwise in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, or posting

on the internet or an intranet, without prior written permission. Permission can be requested from either ISO at the address

below or ISO’s member body in the country of the requester.
ISO copyright office
CP 401 • Ch. de Blandonnet 8
CH-1214 Vernier, Geneva
Phone: +41 22 749 01 11
Fax: +41 22 749 09 47
Email: copyright@iso.org
Website: www.iso.org
Published in Switzerland
ii © ISO 2020 – All rights reserved
---------------------- Page: 8 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)
Contents Page

Foreword ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................iv

Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................v

1 Scope ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 1

2 Normative references ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

3 Terms and definitions ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

4 End-use applications of plastic materials and its relevance to the environment .............................4

4.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

4.2 Packaging ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 8

4.3 Building and construction ............................................................................................................................................................. 9

4.4 Mobility and transportation, electrical and electronics ...................................................................................... 9

4.5 Agriculture .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9

5 Occurrence of plastics in environmental matrix and biota ..................................................................................10

5.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................10

5.2 Water systems ......................................................................................................................................................................................10

5.2.1 Marine waters .................................................................................................................................................................10

5.2.2 Fresh waters .....................................................................................................................................................................11

5.3 Sediments .................................................................................................................................................................................................11

5.3.1 Marine sediments .................. .................................................... ...................................................................................11

5.3.2 Fresh water sediments ............................................................................................................................................12

5.4 Sludge ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................12

5.5 Soils ................................................................................................................................................................................................................13

5.5.1 Terrestrial systems......................................................................................................................................................13

5.5.2 Beaches .................................................................................................................................................................................13

5.6 Air ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................14

5.7 Terrestrial fresh water and marine biota ......................................................................................................................14

6 Testing methods .................................................................................................................................................................................................15

6.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................15

6.2 Sampling ....................................................................................................................................................................................................15

6.2.1 General...................................................................................................................................................................................15

6.2.2 Water (aquatic systems) ........................................................................................................................................16

6.2.3 Sediment, sludge and soil (solid systems) ..............................................................................................17

6.2.4 Air ..............................................................................................................................................................................................18

6.2.5 Biota .........................................................................................................................................................................................18

6.2.6 Statistical considerations for sampling .....................................................................................................19

6.3 Sample preparation .........................................................................................................................................................................19

6.3.1 General...................................................................................................................................................................................19

6.3.2 Physical preparation methods ..........................................................................................................................20

6.3.3 Chemical preparation methods ........................................................................................................................21

6.3.4 Enzymatic preparation ............................................................................................................................................21

6.4 Analysis.......................................................................................................................................................................................................21

6.4.1 General...................................................................................................................................................................................21

6.4.2 Spectroscopic analysis methods ......................................................................................................................22

6.4.3 Thermo-analytic methods ....................................................................................................................................23

6.4.4 Chemical extraction methods ............................................................................................................................23

7 Methodology of entry pathways (Monitoring) ....................................................................................................................25

8 Basics of environmental assessments .........................................................................................................................................27

9 Recommendations for the development of standards ...............................................................................................28

Bibliography .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................30

© ISO 2020 – All rights reserved iii
---------------------- Page: 9 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)
Foreword

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards

bodies (ISO member bodies). The work of preparing International Standards is normally carried out

through ISO technical committees. Each member body interested in a subject for which a technical

committee has been established has the right to be represented on that committee. International

organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work.

ISO collaborates closely with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on all matters of

electrotechnical standardization.

The procedures used to develop this document and those intended for its further maintenance are

described in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1. In particular, the different approval criteria needed for the

different types of ISO documents should be noted. This document was drafted in accordance with the

editorial rules of the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2 (see www .iso .org/ directives).

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of

patent rights. ISO shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights. Details of

any patent rights identified during the development of the document will be in the Introduction and/or

on the ISO list of patent declarations received (see www .iso .org/ patents).

Any trade name used in this document is information given for the convenience of users and does not

constitute an endorsement.

For an explanation of the voluntary nature of standards, the meaning of ISO specific terms and

expressions related to conformity assessment, as well as information about ISO's adherence to the

World Trade Organization (WTO) principles in the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), see www .iso .org/

iso/ foreword .html.

This document was prepared by Technical Committee ISO/TC 61, Plastics, Subcommittee SC 14,

Environmental aspects, in collaboration with the European Committee for Standardization (CEN)

Technical Committee CEN/TC 249, Plastics, in accordance with the Agreement on technical cooperation

between ISO and CEN (Vienna Agreement).

Any feedback or questions on this document should be directed to the user’s national standards body. A

complete listing of these bodies can be found at www .iso .org/ members .html.
iv © ISO 2020 – All rights reserved
---------------------- Page: 10 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)
Introduction

Plastics materials are highly flexible and universally applicable. They can be found in a diversity of

product areas and application sectors. In order to achieve a sustainable management and exploitation

of products, safe and efficient manufacturing processes are compulsory within the value chain. In

addition, an environmentally friendly use and handling across diverse applications is necessary during

consumption, reuse and disposal. This ensures that an effective and qualified management at the

product’s end-of-life is addressed through proper performed procedures and evaluations.

If mismanagement happens at any of the above described life cycle stages, the use of plastics and

plastics-containing products can create adverse effects to the environment. It has been proven, not

least by the United Nations Environment Programme, that discarded products as well as microplastics

are found in the environment around the globe, be it on land or water bodies including the sea. There

are diverse causes for this such as inappropriate or inefficient waste management infrastructures,

improper management of plastics products and their waste reuse or disposal, inefficient wastewater

management, etc. Therefore, various types of entries into the environment and diverse constitutions

and compositions of the microplastic particles in the environment are to be considered. Littered

articles as well as microplastics consists of different kinds of products and come from different waste,

e.g. bottles, films, fishing nets, tyres, cosmetics, clothing fibres, etc.

Over extended time in the environment, plastics products and their waste will breakdown into smaller

items and finally disintegrate to microparticles. Microplastics also enter the environment directly

through its intentional use in some product applications. Microparticles, be it via primary product use

or via secondary fragmentation of macro articles, should be considered with special care since they can

give rise to adverse environmental impact especially in the aquatic environment and its biota.

This document with its primary focus on plastics, rather than all the other materials, in the environment

intends to provide a survey on the international situation of plastics and plastics in the environment

with special attention to microplastics in the marine environment, its detection and determination.

For this purpose, the document describes the state-of-the art testing methods as well as assessment

approaches.

Although this document gives a representative overview of the current knowledge (up to early 2017)

and activities about plastics and microplastics around the world, information is predominately

generated from the Northern Hemisphere and activities in Europe and North America.

In this way, the document can be recognized as a contribution towards harmonized procedures and

measures in order to provide a sound basis for a reliable and verifiable evaluation of the impact of

plastics and microplastic in the environment. The document covers the following key items of interest.

— Status of plastics products and plastics in the environment: Facts about plastics use and proven

findings about the occurrence of plastics and microplastics in the environmental matrix, be it on

land and water bodies including the sea.

— Terminology: The terms “plastic particles”, “plastic microparticles”, “microplastics”, “plastic

nanoparticles” or “solid microparticle” are currently not defined in a consistent way and are,

especially in an international context, being used differently. This document makes an attempt

towards a globally harmonized terminology.

— Test methods: Methods for the detection, analysis and assessment of plastic particles present in the

environment, such as aquatic litter, are neither harmonized nor standardized. Simple visual tests, in

particular, have proved to be insufficient. This document will describe the sampling, its preparation

of samples and further analytics, especially in waters as the main task of this document, since

reproducible and verifiable procedures are indispensable to derive valid data for the environmental

assessment and on this basis concluding appropriate measures to improve the environmental

situation.

Not only has the plastics economy recognized the importance of this topic and started diverse action

programmes, which are, for example, compiled through the Global Plastics Declaration Initiative,

© ISO 2020 – All rights reserved v
---------------------- Page: 11 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)

also political groups (e.g. G 7 and G 20), international organisations such as OECD, administrations of

regions and individual countries are increasingly taking care about the serious issue of littered plastic

waste and microparticles in the environment. In addition, numerous research activities have also been

initiated. All these key stakeholders will highly benefit from a globally harmonized procedure.

This document includes references to studies and investigations in relation with plastics in the

environmental matrix and biota, including microplastics. Important is the chapter terms and

definitions. It presents the basis for future work in ISO. The description of the size classes is particularly

relevant. Reference is made to other classifications of other organizations, for example in the area

of Nanoparticles (see also OECD). The references selected within this document reflect the current

knowledge without claiming to be complete or fully up-to-date. The content and conclusions of the

different studies referenced in the bibliography are under the responsibility of their authors.

NOTE The document was developed under the scope of ISO/TC 61 Plastics and follows resulting requirements.

Independent from these, terms are used in the text, which are in the scope of other ISO/TCs, such as:

— ISO/TC 38, Textiles;
— ISO/TC 45, Rubber and rubber products;
— ISO/TC 217, Cosmetics
vi © ISO 2020 – All rights reserved
---------------------- Page: 12 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
TECHNICAL REPORT ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)
Plastics — Environmental aspects — State of knowledge
and methodologies
1 Scope

This document summarizes current scientific literature on the occurrence of macroplastics and

microplastics, in the environment and biota. It gives an overview of testing methods, including sampling

from various environmental matrix, sample preparation and analysis. Further, chemical and physical

testing methods for the identification and quantification of plastics are described.

This document gives recommendations for three steps necessary for the standardization of methods

towards harmonized procedures for sampling, sample preparation and analysis.
This document does not apply indoor and health related aspects.

NOTE The collection of plastics or microplastics in the environment by citizen social monitoring projects

is not in the scope of this document. Although such projects can help sensitize the society to environmental

problems and can even reduce the entry and presence of plastics in the environment, this monitoring concept is

not considered suitable for a robustly representative and scientific analysis of microplastics in the environment

via standardization.
2 Normative references
There are no normative references in this document.
3 Terms and definitions

For the purposes of this document, the following terms and definitions apply. ISO and IEC maintain

terminological databases for use in standardization at the following addresses:
— ISO Online browsing platform: available at https:// www .iso .org/ obp
— IEC Electropedia: available at http:// www .electropedia .org/
3.1
polymer

chemical compound or mixture of compounds consisting of repeating structural units created through

polymerization
Note 1 to entry: In practice above 10 000 Dalton.

Note 2 to entry: Polymers comprise both plastics and elastomers. The latter is excluded from the scope of

ISO/TC 61.
3.2
plastic

material which contains as an essential ingredient a high polymer (3.1) and which, at some stage in its

processing into finished products, can be shaped by flow

Note 1 to entry: Plastics consists mainly polymers and minor contents of additives (3.7).

Note 2 to entry: Supplementary to the term “plastic”, “plastic product” is also used. According to ISO 472, a plastic

product represents “any material or combination of materials, semi-finished or finished product that is within

the scope of ISO/TC 61, Plastics”.

Note 3 to entry: Plastics comprise both thermoplastic (3.3) and thermoset (3.4) materials.

© ISO 2020 – All rights reserved 1
---------------------- Page: 13 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.702, modified — Notes to entry have been replaced.]
3.3
thermoplastic
plastic (3.1) that has thermoplastic properties
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.1178]
3.4
thermoset

plastic (3.1) which, when cured by heat or other means, changes into a substantially infusible and

insoluble product
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.1181]
3.5
elastomer

macromolecular material which returns rapidly to its initial dimensions and shape after substantial

deformation by a weak stress and release of the stress
Note 1 to entry: The definition applies under room temperature test conditions.
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.327]
3.6
composite

solid product consisting of two or more layers (often in a symmetrical assembly) of, for instance, plastic

film or sheet, normal or syntactic cellular plastic, metal, wood or a composite with or without adhesive

interlayers
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.182.2, modified — The example has been omitted.]
3.7
additives

chemicals added to polymers (3.1) to improve/change the individual properties of the specific plastic

material

Note 1 to entry: Important additives such as fillers/reinforced materials, softeners and flame retardants are

referenced according to ISO 1043-2 to ISO 1043-4.
3.8
macroplastic

any solid plastic particle or object insoluble in water with any dimension above 5 mm

Note 1 to entry: Typically, a macroplastic object represents an article consisting of plastic or a part of an end-user

product or a fragment of the respective article, such as cups, cup covers.

Note 2 to entry: The defined dimension is related to the longest distance of the particle.

3.9
microplastic

any solid plastic particle insoluble in water with any dimension between 1 µm and 1 000 µm (=1 mm)

Note 1 to entry: This term relates to plastic materials within the scope of ISO/TC 61. Rubber, fibres, cosmetic

means, etc. are not within the scope.

Note 2 to entry: Typically, a microplastic object represents a particle intentionally added to end-user products,

such as cosmetic means, coatings, paints, etc. A microplastic object can also result as a fragment of the respective

article.
Note 3 to entry: Microplastics may show various shapes.

Note 4 to entry: The defined dimension is related to the longest distance of the particle.

2 © ISO 2020 – All rights reserved
---------------------- Page: 14 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)
3.10
large microplastic

any solid plastic particle insoluble in water with any dimension between 1 mm and 5 mm

Note 1 to entry: Microplastics (3.9) may show various shapes.

Note 2 to entry: Typically, a large microplastic object represents an article consisting of plastic or a part of an

end-user product or a fragment of the respective article.

Note 3 to entry: Microplastics in this size range are, for example, plastic pellets as intermediates for further

down-stream processing such as moulding, extrusion, etc. resulting to semi-finished products which are not

final end-user products.
3.11
microparticle

solid particle insoluble in water in the dimension between 1 µm and 1 000 µm (=1 mm)

Note 1 to entry: There is currently no specific distinction between nanoparticles and microparticles.

3.12
macroparticle
solid particle not soluble in water in the dimension above 5 mm
3.13
nanoplastic
plastic particles smaller than 1 µm
Note 1 to entry: According to OECD nanoparticles are up to 100 nm.
3.14
litter
solid object disposed of or abandoned in the environment (3.17)
3.15
marine litter
litter (3.14) found in the marine or coastal environment (3.17)
3.16
waste

any material or object which the holder discards, or intends to discard, or is required to discard

[SOURCE: ISO 15270, 3.34]
3.17
environment

conditions and surroundings that might influence the behaviour of an item or biotic life

Note 1 to entry: Environmental matrices are: water, air and soil.

Note 2 to entry: The relation to the environment within this document does not refer to environmental aspects

such as resource efficiency, energy consumption, climate protection, etc. rather this document focuses on the

relevance with respect to potential releases into the environment on land or sea.

[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.1310, modified — The definition has been edited to specify biotic life and

Notes to entry have been added.]
3.18
ageing

entirety of all irreversible chemical and physical processes occurring in a material in the course of time

Note 1 to entry: For testing purposes, ageing is often applied artificially.
© ISO 2020 – All rights reserved 3
---------------------- Page: 15 ----------------------
SIST-TP CEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2020(E)
3.19
biota
living organisms in the environment (3.17)
4 End-use applications of plast
...

SLOVENSKI STANDARD
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
01-januar-2020
Plastika v okolju - Trenutno stanje znanja in metodologije (ISO PRF/TR
21960:2019)
Plastics in the Environment - Current state of knowledge and methodologies (ISO
PRF/TR 21960:2019)
Kunststoffe in der Umwelt - Aktueller Wissensstand und Methodik (ISO PRF/TR
21960:2019)

Plastiques - Recommandations pour l'élaboration de normes pour l'étude des matières

plastiques dans l'environnement et le biota (ISO PRF/TR 21960:2019)
Ta slovenski standard je istoveten z: FprCEN ISO/TR 21960
ICS:
13.020.01 Okolje in varstvo okolja na Environment and
splošno environmental protection in
general
83.080.01 Polimerni materiali na Plastics in general
splošno
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020 en,fr,de

2003-01.Slovenski inštitut za standardizacijo. Razmnoževanje celote ali delov tega standarda ni dovoljeno.

---------------------- Page: 1 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
---------------------- Page: 2 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
TECHNICAL ISO/TR
REPORT 21960
First edition
Plastics — Environmental aspects —
State of knowledge and methodologies
PROOF/ÉPREUVE
Reference number
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
ISO 2019
---------------------- Page: 3 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
COPYRIGHT PROTECTED DOCUMENT
© ISO 2019

All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, or required in the context of its implementation, no part of this publication may

be reproduced or utilized otherwise in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, or posting

on the internet or an intranet, without prior written permission. Permission can be requested from either ISO at the address

below or ISO’s member body in the country of the requester.
ISO copyright office
CP 401 • Ch. de Blandonnet 8
CH-1214 Vernier, Geneva
Phone: +41 22 749 01 11
Fax: +41 22 749 09 47
Email: copyright@iso.org
Website: www.iso.org
Published in Switzerland
ii PROOF/ÉPREUVE © ISO 2019 – All rights reserved
---------------------- Page: 4 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
Contents Page

Foreword ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................iv

Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................v

1 Scope ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 1

2 Normative references ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

3 Terms and definitions ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

4 End-use applications of plastic materials and its relevance to the environment .............................4

4.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

4.2 Packaging ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 8

4.3 Building and construction ............................................................................................................................................................. 9

4.4 Mobility and transportation, electrical and electronics ...................................................................................... 9

4.5 Agriculture .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9

5 Occurrence of plastics in environmental matrix and biota ..................................................................................10

5.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................10

5.2 Water systems ......................................................................................................................................................................................10

5.2.1 Marine waters .................................................................................................................................................................10

5.2.2 Fresh waters .....................................................................................................................................................................11

5.3 Sediments .................................................................................................................................................................................................11

5.3.1 Marine sediments .................. .................................................... ...................................................................................11

5.3.2 Fresh water sediments ............................................................................................................................................12

5.4 Sludge ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................12

5.5 Soils ................................................................................................................................................................................................................13

5.5.1 Terrestrial systems......................................................................................................................................................13

5.5.2 Beaches .................................................................................................................................................................................13

5.6 Air ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................14

5.7 Terrestrial fresh water and marine biota ......................................................................................................................14

6 Testing methods .................................................................................................................................................................................................15

6.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................15

6.2 Sampling ....................................................................................................................................................................................................15

6.2.1 General...................................................................................................................................................................................15

6.2.2 Water (aquatic systems) ........................................................................................................................................16

6.2.3 Sediment, sludge and soil (solid systems) ..............................................................................................17

6.2.4 Air ..............................................................................................................................................................................................18

6.2.5 Biota .........................................................................................................................................................................................18

6.2.6 Statistical considerations for sampling .....................................................................................................19

6.3 Sample preparation .........................................................................................................................................................................19

6.3.1 General...................................................................................................................................................................................19

6.3.2 Physical preparation methods ..........................................................................................................................20

6.3.3 Chemical preparation methods ........................................................................................................................21

6.3.4 Enzymatic preparation ............................................................................................................................................21

6.4 Analysis.......................................................................................................................................................................................................21

6.4.1 General...................................................................................................................................................................................21

6.4.2 Spectroscopic analysis methods ......................................................................................................................22

6.4.3 Thermo-analytic methods ....................................................................................................................................23

6.4.4 Chemical extraction methods ............................................................................................................................23

7 Methodology of entry pathways (Monitoring) ....................................................................................................................25

8 Basics of environmental assessments .........................................................................................................................................27

9 Recommendations for the development of standards ...............................................................................................28

Bibliography .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................30

© ISO 2019 – All rights reserved PROOF/ÉPREUVE iii
---------------------- Page: 5 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
Foreword

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards

bodies (ISO member bodies). The work of preparing International Standards is normally carried out

through ISO technical committees. Each member body interested in a subject for which a technical

committee has been established has the right to be represented on that committee. International

organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work.

ISO collaborates closely with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on all matters of

electrotechnical standardization.

The procedures used to develop this document and those intended for its further maintenance are

described in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1. In particular, the different approval criteria needed for the

different types of ISO documents should be noted. This document was drafted in accordance with the

editorial rules of the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2 (see www .iso .org/directives).

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of

patent rights. ISO shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights. Details of

any patent rights identified during the development of the document will be in the Introduction and/or

on the ISO list of patent declarations received (see www .iso .org/patents).

Any trade name used in this document is information given for the convenience of users and does not

constitute an endorsement.

For an explanation of the voluntary nature of standards, the meaning of ISO specific terms and

expressions related to conformity assessment, as well as information about ISO's adherence to the

World Trade Organization (WTO) principles in the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), see www .iso

.org/iso/foreword .html.

This document was prepared by Technical Committee ISO/TC 61, Plastics, Subcommittee SC 14,

Environmental aspects.

Any feedback or questions on this document should be directed to the user’s national standards body. A

complete listing of these bodies can be found at www .iso .org/members .html.
iv PROOF/ÉPREUVE © ISO 2019 – All rights reserved
---------------------- Page: 6 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
Introduction

Plastics materials are highly flexible and universally applicable. They can be found in a diversity of

product areas and application sectors. In order to achieve a sustainable management and exploitation

of products, safe and efficient manufacturing processes are compulsory within the value chain. In

addition, an environmentally friendly use and handling across diverse applications is necessary during

consumption, reuse and disposal. This ensures that an effective and qualified management at the

product’s end-of-life is addressed through proper performed procedures and evaluations.

If mismanagement happens at any of the above described life cycle stages, the use of plastics and

plastics-containing products can create adverse effects to the environment. It has been proven, not

least by the United Nations Environment Programme, that discarded products as well as microplastics

are found in the environment around the globe, be it on land or water bodies including the sea. There

are diverse causes for this such as inappropriate or inefficient waste management infrastructures,

improper management of plastics products and their waste reuse or disposal, inefficient wastewater

management, etc. Therefore, various types of entries into the environment and diverse constitutions

and compositions of the microplastic particles in the environment are to be considered. Littered

articles as well as microplastics consists of different kinds of products and come from different waste,

e.g. bottles, films, fishing nets, tyres, cosmetics, clothing fibres, etc.

Over extended time in the environment, plastics products and their waste will breakdown into smaller

items and finally disintegrate to microparticles. Microplastics also enter the environment directly

through its intentional use in some product applications. Microparticles, be it via primary product use

or via secondary fragmentation of macro articles, should be considered with special care since they can

give rise to adverse environmental impact especially in the aquatic environment and its biota.

This document with its primary focus on plastics, rather than all the other materials, in the environment

intends to provide a survey on the international situation of plastics and plastics in the environment

with special attention to microplastics in the marine environment, its detection and determination.

For this purpose, the document describes the state-of-the art testing methods as well as assessment

approaches.

Although this document gives a representative overview of the current knowledge (up to early 2017)

and activities about plastics and microplastics around the world, information is predominately

generated from the Northern Hemisphere and activities in Europe and North America.

In this way, the document can be recognized as a contribution towards harmonized procedures and

measures in order to provide a sound basis for a reliable and verifiable evaluation of the impact of

plastics and microplastic in the environment. The document covers the following key items of interest.

— Status of plastics products and plastics in the environment: Facts about plastics use and proven

findings about the occurrence of plastics and microplastics in the environmental matrix, be it on

land and water bodies including the sea.

— Terminology: The terms “plastic particles”, “plastic microparticles”, “microplastics”, “plastic

nanoparticles” or “solid microparticle” are currently not defined in a consistent way and are,

especially in an international context, being used differently. This document makes an attempt

towards a globally harmonized terminology.

— Test methods: Methods for the detection, analysis and assessment of plastic particles present in the

environment, such as aquatic litter, are neither harmonized nor standardized. Simple visual tests, in

particular, have proved to be insufficient. This document will describe the sampling, its preparation

of samples and further analytics, especially in waters as the main task of this document, since

reproducible and verifiable procedures are indispensable to derive valid data for the environmental

assessment and on this basis concluding appropriate measures to improve the environmental

situation.

Not only has the plastics economy recognized the importance of this topic and started diverse action

programmes, which are, for example, compiled through the Global Plastics Declaration Initiative,

© ISO 2019 – All rights reserved PROOF/ÉPREUVE v
---------------------- Page: 7 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)

also political groups (e.g. G 7 and G 20), international organisations such as OECD, administrations of

regions and individual countries are increasingly taking care about the serious issue of littered plastic

waste and microparticles in the environment. In addition, numerous research activities have also been

initiated. All these key stakeholders will highly benefit from a globally harmonized procedure.

This document includes references to studies and investigations in relation with plastics in the

environmental matrix and biota, including microplastics. Important is the chapter terms and

definitions. It presents the basis for future work in ISO. The description of the size classes is particularly

relevant. Reference is made to other classifications of other organizations, for example in the area

of Nanoparticles (see also OECD). The references selected within this document reflect the current

knowledge without claiming to be complete or fully up-to-date. The content and conclusions of the

different studies referenced in the bibliography are under the responsibility of their authors.

NOTE The document was developed under the scope of ISO/TC 61 Plastics and follows resulting requirements.

Independent from these, terms are used in the text, which are in the scope of other ISO/TCs, such as:

— ISO/TC 38, Textiles;
— ISO/TC 45, Rubber and rubber products;
— ISO/TC 217, Cosmetics
vi PROOF/ÉPREUVE © ISO 2019 – All rights reserved
---------------------- Page: 8 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
TECHNICAL REPORT ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
Plastics — Environmental aspects — State of knowledge
and methodologies
1 Scope

This document summarizes current scientific literature on the occurrence of macroplastics and

microplastics, in the environment and biota. It gives an overview of testing methods, including sampling

from various environmental matrix, sample preparation and analysis. Further, chemical and physical

testing methods for the identification and quantification of plastics are described.

This document gives recommendations for three steps necessary for the standardization of methods

towards harmonized procedures for sampling, sample preparation and analysis.
This document does not apply indoor and health related aspects.

NOTE The collection of plastics or microplastics in the environment by citizen social monitoring projects

is not in the scope of this document. Although such projects can help sensitize the society to environmental

problems and can even reduce the entry and presence of plastics in the environment, this monitoring concept is

not considered suitable for a robustly representative and scientific analysis of microplastics in the environment

via standardization.
2 Normative references
There are no normative references in this document.
3 Terms and definitions

For the purposes of this document, the following terms and definitions apply. ISO and IEC maintain

terminological databases for use in standardization at the following addresses:
— ISO Online browsing platform: available at https: //www .iso .org/obp
— IEC Electropedia: available at http: //www .electropedia .org/
3.1
polymer

chemical compound or mixture of compounds consisting of repeating structural units created through

polymerization
Note 1 to entry: In practice above 10 000 Dalton.

Note 2 to entry: Polymers comprise both plastics and elastomers. The latter is excluded from the scope of

ISO/TC 61.
3.2
plastic

material which contains as an essential ingredient a high polymer (3.1) and which, at some stage in its

processing into finished products, can be shaped by flow

Note 1 to entry: Plastics consists mainly polymers and minor contents of additives (3.7).

Note 2 to entry: Supplementary to the term “plastic”, “plastic product” is also used. According to ISO 472, a plastic

product represents “any material or combination of materials, semi-finished or finished product that is within

the scope of ISO/TC 61, Plastics”.

Note 3 to entry: Plastics comprise both thermoplastic (3.3) and thermoset (3.4) materials.

© ISO 2019 – All rights reserved PROOF/ÉPREUVE 1
---------------------- Page: 9 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.702, modified — Notes to entry have been replaced.]
3.3
thermoplastic
plastic (3.1) that has thermoplastic properties
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.1178]
3.4
thermoset

plastic (3.1) which, when cured by heat or other means, changes into a substantially infusible and

insoluble product
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.1181]
3.5
elastomer

macromolecular material which returns rapidly to its initial dimensions and shape after substantial

deformation by a weak stress and release of the stress
Note 1 to entry: The definition applies under room temperature test conditions.
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.327]
3.6
composite

solid product consisting of two or more layers (often in a symmetrical assembly) of, for instance, plastic

film or sheet, normal or syntactic cellular plastic, metal, wood or a composite with or without adhesive

interlayers
[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.182.2, modified — The example has been omitted.]
3.7
additives

chemicals added to polymers (3.1) to improve/change the individual properties of the specific plastic

material

Note 1 to entry: Important additives such as fillers/reinforced materials, softeners and flame retardants are

referenced according to ISO 1043-2 to ISO 1043-4.
3.8
macroplastic

any solid plastic particle or object insoluble in water with any dimension above 5 mm

Note 1 to entry: Typically, a macroplastic object represents an article consisting of plastic or a part of an end-user

product or a fragment of the respective article, such as cups, cup covers.

Note 2 to entry: The defined dimension is related to the longest distance of the particle.

3.9
microplastic

any solid plastic particle insoluble in water with any dimension between 1 µm and 1 000 µm (=1 mm)

Note 1 to entry: This term relates to plastic materials within the scope of ISO/TC 61, e.g. rubber, fibres, cosmetic

means etc. are not within the scope.

Note 2 to entry: Typically, a microplastic object represents a particle intentionally added to end-user products,

such as cosmetic means, coatings, paints, etc. A microplastic object can also result as a fragment of the respective

article.
Note 3 to entry: Microplastics may show various shapes.

Note 4 to entry: The defined dimension is related to the longest distance of the particle.

2 PROOF/ÉPREUVE © ISO 2019 – All rights reserved
---------------------- Page: 10 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
3.10
large microplastic

any solid plastic particle insoluble in water with any dimension between 1 mm and 5 mm

Note 1 to entry: Microplastics (3.9) may show various shapes.

Note 2 to entry: Typically, a large microplastic object represents an article consisting of plastic or a part of an

end-user product or a fragment of the respective article.

Note 3 to entry: Microplastics in this size range are, for example, plastic pellets as intermediates for further

down-stream processing such as moulding, extrusion, etc. resulting to semi-finished products which are not

final end-user products.
3.11
microparticle

solid particle insoluble in water in the dimension between 1 µm and 1 000 µm (=1 mm)

Note 1 to entry: There is currently no specific distinction between nanoparticles and microparticles.

3.12
macroparticle
solid particle not soluble in water in the dimension above 5 mm
3.13
nanoplastic
plastic particles smaller than 1 µm
Note 1 to entry: According to OECD nanoparticles are up to 100 nm.
3.14
litter
solid object disposed of or abandoned in the environment (3.17)
3.15
marine litter
litter (3.14) found in the marine or coastal environment (3.17)
3.16
waste

any material or object which the holder discards, or intends to discard, or is required to discard

[SOURCE: ISO 15270, 3.34]
3.17
environment

conditions and surroundings that might influence the behaviour of an item or biotic life

Note 1 to entry: Environmental matrices are: water, air and soil.

Note 2 to entry: The relation to the environment within this document does not refer to environmental aspects

such as resource efficiency, energy consumption, climate protection, etc. rather this document focuses on the

relevance with respect to potential releases into the environment on land or sea.

[SOURCE: ISO 472:2013, 2.1310, modified — The definition has been edited to specify biotic life and

Notes to entry have been added.]
3.18
ageing

entirety of all irreversible chemical and physical processes occurring in a material in the course of time

Note 1 to entry: For testing purposes, ageing is often applied artificially.
© ISO 2019 – All rights reserved PROOF/ÉPREUVE 3
---------------------- Page: 11 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
3.19
biota
living organisms in the environment (3.17)
4 End-use applications of plastic materials and its relevance to the environment
4.1 General

Plastics are important materials in today’s modern life and play an integral role in both households

and industries. Over recent years, the consumption of plastic materials has significantly increased

and today they find diverse fields of areas of application such as packaging, building and construction,

automotive, electrical and electronic equipment, etc. Depending on the performance requirements of

the final end application, an article can contain plastics and/or composites.

The production of plastic materials is strictly regulated by legislative rules that translate into permit

requirements for materials production by the chemical and plastics industry according to the Industry

Emission Directive in Europe. In this way, emissions into air, water and soil can be well managed by

applying the best available technologies for polymer production according to legislative rules and

technical guidance.

The plastics value chain can be described as follows. Plastic materials are mostly manufactured from

fossil raw materials like oil or gas and are mainly produced in the form of powders, flakes and pellets

(a preformed moulding material). This material may further be compounded before its use in moulding

and extrusion processes for its subsequent conversion into intermediate semi-finished products like

sheets, profiles, films, etc. These will be shaped into a variety of final articles in the household, buildings,

mobility sectors, etc. For the market relevant plastic materials used by the diverse application sectors,

see 4.2 to 4.5, the term "plastics" comprises thermoplastic materials and thermosets.

Figure 1 shows how in the industrial value chain the various steps of production, logistics and

distributions as well as entry pathways of plastics are distinguished.
4 PROOF/ÉPREUVE © ISO 2019 – All rights reserved
---------------------- Page: 12 ----------------------
kSIST-TP FprCEN ISO/TR 21960:2020
ISO/TR 21960:2019(E)
Key
Yellow boxes: steps of the value chain
Grey boxes: logistics, distribution, trade, transfer
Green boxes: entry pathways
1 raw material producer
2 compounder/converter
3 OEM
4 supplier/tier
5 logistics on land
6 distribution/trade
7 transfer/shipment
8 logistics on sea
9 drain from municipality
10 river
11 port
12 ocean
13 beach/coast
14 biota

NOTE Based on a graph of International Pellet Watch: www .tuat .ac .jp/ -gaia/ipw/en/what

...

Questions, Comments and Discussion

Ask us and Technical Secretary will try to provide an answer. You can facilitate discussion about the standard in here.