Spotlight On
The Polymer Kit 1.0

Introducing the Polymer Kit 1.0: Analytical Standards for Plastics analysis

Kellie Teague, Dr. Katherine Shaw, Raquel Corniuk & Dr. Jennifer Lynch

Hawai'i Pacific University Center for Marine Debris Research

Though plastic pollution can be found in all corners of the globe and research into this relatively new phenomenon is occurring worldwide, few standardized methods have been established for the study of microplastics in the environment. In November 2020, the Hawai'i Pacific University Center for Marine Debris Research began marketing plastic reference standards to research institutions with the goal of harmonizing plastic pollution research. The CMDR Polymer Kit 1.0 provides an easy and affordable way for laboratories to obtain diverse plastic polymer materials that are commonly found in the environment.

Polymer Kit 1.0 contains 22 distinct polymers, including polyethylene (PE) of various densities, polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalates (PET), polyamides (PA), polyvinyl chlorides (PVC), crumb rubber (CR) and cellulose acetate (CA). Materials in the kit come in microplastic sizes, and can easily be made smaller through mechanical means. The polymers are in pre-production pellet, fiber, or powder forms, and can be used in a number of experimental applications, including testing biological impacts and conducting polymer degradation, transport and fate experiments.

For each of the 22 polymers, identification analyses were performed through attenuated total reflectance Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR FTIR) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). All spectral and thermogram data collected during these analyses are included on a USB drive with the kit. Users of Polymer Kit 1.0 should be able to build in-house spectral libraries and test the functionality, accuracy, and precision of instruments, using the USB drive for reference.

Finally, all kit users are invited to join the Polymer Kit Network. It is CMDR’s hope that by connecting all users of the same kit, researchers will be able to compare data across laboratories, brainstorm ideas, troubleshoot problems, and spark collaborations among scientists all working towards the same goal – a better understanding of how microplastics impact our environment. For more information about Polymer Kit 1.0, please send an email to To purchase Polymer Kit 1.0 for your laboratory, click here.

Published March 16, 2021.