Plastics in the environment - a compendium

#definition #plastics #synthetic material #water #circular economy
Cover image of the publication
Cover image of the compendium

In the compendium, important terms and definitions relating to plastics are explained and presented in their respective scientific context. The aim is to achieve a common understanding of the numerous relevant terms, especially for communicating research results.

The compendium includes explanations of key terms relevant to the topic of plastics in the environment. These are contextualized in short scientific chapters to present the relationships between terms more clearly and to closely link them to the body of knowledge of the disciplines on which they are based. The compendium works primarily with existing definitions (including DIN/CEN/ISO standards or legal definitions from federal legislation); it only does very limited definition work of its own. The compendium also clarifies the correct use of terminology and which terms should not be used. This will contribute to placing communication with and by non-scientific actors on a conceptually sound basis.


This compendium aims to refine relevant terms to contribute to a better understanding within the heterogeneous community surrounding plastics in the environment. Where different disciplines come together, there is bound to be some inconsistency in terms of definitions: Terms and definitions in the technical and regulatory fields are very closely related to specific application areas. Therefore, different levels of meaning sometimes exist for one term.


This compendium was developed as part of the cross-cutting topic 3 "Terms and Definitions" of the research focus and is the result of inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration between experts from many scientific-technical and socio-economic disciplines.

Water resource: Process water, Rainwater, Surface water, Wastewater
Type of product:
  • Standards & regulations
Application sector: Cities and municipalities, Industry, Water resource management
Funding measure: Plastics in the environment
Project: Cross-Cutting Topic 3: Terms and Definitions

Contact and partners

  • Ecologic Institut gGmbH,
  • Pfalzburger Str. 43/44,
  • 10717 Berlin
Doris Knoblauch

Ecologic Institute gGmbH,

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