Microplastic emissions from disposable type I and FFP2 face masks used in the Netherlands
: An exploration for further research and emission mitigation measures

  • S Ham
  • H Landman
  • M Lieben
  • I Veen

Student thesis: Bachelor's Thesis


Plastic pollution of microplastics has become a major issue in recent years in the aquatic and terrestrial environment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a new plastic item emerged in the environment: disposable face masks. In this study, we research Type I surgical face masks, the masks used in public spaces and public transport in the Netherlands, and FFP2 face masks, in the Netherlands mainly used in hospitals. The masks contain plastic and their production, use and disposal can cause microplastic emissions. To get more insight into the product and possible plastic emissions we investigated how the production of both types of face masks works and where emissions of plastic can take place among the whole product- and supply chain from suppliers to end-users. To describe the product chain we used the SCOR model. With two Material System Analyses, we calculated the annual total microplastic emissions to the environment in the Netherlands. Most microplastic emissions from type I masks are caused by the mismanagement of waste. Microplastic emissions from FFP2 masks used in Dutch hospitals only occur due to pellet loss. Proxies to estimate microplastics entering the environment should consist of a combination of the following variables: location (hot spots and polluted areas), population density, waste management, policies, culture, institutions and the presence of friction.
Date of Award18 Mar 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJikke van Wijnen (Supervisor), Harold Krikke (Co-assessor) & Angelique Lansu (Examiner)


  • Microplastics
  • microparticles
  • microplastic emission
  • Type I
  • FFP2
  • SCOR model
  • Material Flow Analysis (MFA)
  • Material System Analysis (MSA)
  • proxies

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