Will it Float? Rising and Settling Velocities of Common Macroplastic Foils

Boaz Kuizenga*, Tim van Emmerik, Kryss Waldschläger, Merel Kooi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Plastic accumulates in the environment because of insufficient waste handling and its high durability. Better understanding of plastic behavior in the aquatic environment is needed to estimate transport and accumulation, which can be used for monitoring, prevention, and reduction strategies. Plastic transport models benefit from accurate description of particle characteristics, such as rising and settling velocities. For macroplastics (>0.5 cm), these are however still scarce. In this study, the rising and settling behavior of three different polymer types (PET, PP, and PE) was investigated. The plastic particles were foils of different surface areas and shapes. The observational data were used to test the performance of four models, including one developed in this study, to estimate the rising/settling velocity on the basis of the plastic particle characteristics. These models are validated using the data generated in this research, and data from another study. From the models that were discussed, the best results are from the newly introduced foil velocity model (R2 = 0.96 and 0.29, for both data sets, respectively). The results of our paper can be used to further explore the vertical distribution of plastics in rivers, lakes, and oceans, which is crucial to optimize future plastic monitoring and reduction efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-981
JournalACS ES&T Water
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2022


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