Standard operation procedures (SOPs) of Polymer Degradation

In the environment, plastic litter is constantly exposed to numerous factors, resulting in degradation. A polymer, regardless of its molecular size, can undergo a series of reactions during use in the environment. An extended exposure to sunlight, the atmosphere, water, and mechanical stress can cause low intensity reactions. As a result of these reactions, the chemical composition of the compound will change. Polymer properties are profoundly affected by the breaking of its chain which occurs when chemical changes occur in polymers. Polymers used in plastics come in many different structures which affect degradation reactions and mechanisms profoundly. Polymers degrade as a result of unintended reactions, ultimately leading to a material that is no longer suitable for its intended purposes. Degradation contributes to the formation and transformation of microplastics, which impacts their long-term fate. The problem is made worse by the fact that different materials will degrade differently depending on their exposure. Plastic litter that enters the environment also contains a variety of additives since they are generally used in virtually all commercial plastic formulations.

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