As plastic marine debris continues to accumulate in the oceans, many important questions surround this global dilemma. In particular, how many descriptors would be necessary to model the degradation behavior of ocean plastics or understand if degradation is possible? Here, we report a data-driven approach to elucidate degradation trends of plastic debris by linking abiotic and biotic degradation behavior in seawater with physical properties and molecular structures. The results reveal a hierarchy of predictors to quantify surface erosion as well as combinations of features, like glass transition temperature and hydrophobicity, to classify ocean plastics into fast, medium, and slow degradation categories. Furthermore, to account for weathering and environmental factors, two equations model the influence of seawater temperature and mechanical forces.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)