Cefic-lri Programme | European Chemical Industry Council

ECO56: UTOPIA: Development of a mUltimedia uniT world OPen-source model for mIcroplAstic

Principal Investigator

Dr. Matthew MacLeod
Department of Environmental Science
Svante Arrhenius väg 8
Tel : +46 8 6747168


Dr. Antonia Praetorius, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, a.praetorius@uva.nl
Dr. Prado Domercq, Stockholm University, Stockholm,prado.domercq@aces.su.se
Dr. Sam Harrison, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster, UK, sharrison@ceh.ac.uk


The main objective of UTOPIA is to develop an open-source unit world multimedia modeling platform to synthesize knowledge and understanding about the fate of microplastic in the environment.

The UTOPIA project aims to deliver a general purpose open-source modeling platform that will:

  • describe all known relevant fate processes for microplastic with a reference set of equations, including a) movement between air, freshwater rivers and lakes and their underlying sediment, coastal marine areas, including beaches and underlying sediment, and urban, agricultural and background soils, b) fragmentation into smaller plastic particles, c) association of microplastic with organic matter through biofouling and aggregation, and d) chemical degradation into small organic molecules that do not retain the particle characteristics of plastic material and are available for biodegradation;
  • provide a user-friendly interface to allow non-expert users to run calculations and conduct sensitivity and uncertainty analysis to support decision-making;
  • include a generic database of microplastic properties (e.g. size, density and shape) and so the model can be readily used for scenario analysis in comparative assessments examining plastic with different properties;
  • be modular in design to allow expert users to further develop the model as science evolves such that parameters and process descriptions can be readily replaced with updated values or algorithms; and
  • provide a reference modeling platform for screening-level risk assessment, calculation of hazard indicators and identification of knowledge gaps and key drivers of uncertainty, that will support hypothesis generation to prioritize future environmental monitoring and process studies.

Timeline: October 2021 > September 2023

LRI funding: 250 000€

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