Project number 44/2022, Project code PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2021-0075

Implementation period: 15.05.2022-14.05.2024

Project title

Project summary

Freshwater pollution with plastic waste is a serious environmental problem in countries with deficient waste management such as Romania. The project innovation is to develop a new model framework (SAFE-PP) in the regional assessment of freshwater plastic pollution susceptibility. Such a method is necessary because there are significant disparities in terms of river catchment features, waste management performances and socio-economic indicators within a region or county. The project aims to validate this model of susceptibility through case studies in the mountain area (eg Izvoru Muntelui and Bistrita Valley) and transitional areas (e.g. mountain-subcarpathian) supported by a hydrological analysis; to identify "hot spots" of pollution with plastic waste and the causes of their production; to analyze the role of floods and tourism in waste pollution and to propose a support tool for decision-makers in the study area. This research project will point out the best practices related to plastic wastes to stimulate the circular economy in Romania and to improve waste management practices in both urban and rural communities in the proximity of freshwater bodies. The project will be useful to local communities in combating and preventing illegal dumping through prior identification of areas susceptible to such bad practices as well as in prioritizing investments related to plastic waste management.


The main objectives of this research project are:

  • O1: to identify the operational deficiencies of waste collection schemes by evaluating the performance of the current waste management system as the main contributor to illegal waste disposal practices with a particular focus on plastic bottles

  • 02: to develop a new model framework (SAFE-PP) for the evaluation of the susceptibility to plastic pollution of freshwater bodies

  • O3: to validate this model through case studies at river catchment levels (e.g. Bistrita river mountain sector) and administrative levels (communes, towns)

  • 04. to examine the role of floods and season rainfalls in plastic pollution of freshwater bodies

  • 05. to evaluate the role of the tourism sector in the plastic pollution process

Project team

  1. Researcher III PhD. Florin-Constantin MIHAI
  2. Associate Professor PhD. Ionut MINEA
  3. Lecturer PhD. Mihail EVA
  4. Researcher III PhD Simona-Roxana ULMAN
  5. Researcher PhD Marina IOSUB
  6. Drd. Anca-Maria Chirilă


Final research reports


A. Scientific journals (Web of Science/Clarivate):
  1. Gundogdu, S., Mihai, F. C., Fischer, E. K., Blettler, M. C., Turgay, O. C., Akca, M. O., Aydogan B., & Ayat, B. (2023). Micro and nano plastics in groundwater systems: A review of current knowledge and future perspectives. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 165, 117119.
  2. Liro, M., Zielonka, A., van Emmerik, T. H., Grodzińska-Jurczak, M., Liro, J., Kiss, T., & Mihai, F. C. (2023). Mountains of plastic: Mismanaged plastic waste along the Carpathian watercourses. Science of The Total Environment, 888, 164058.
  3. Liro, M., van Emmerik, T. H., Zielonka, A., Gallitelli, L., & Mihai, F. C. (2023). The unknown fate of macroplastic in mountain rivers. Science of the Total Environment, 865, 161224.
  4. Mihai, F.-C. Circular Economy and Sustainable Rural Development. Sustainability 2023, 15, 2139.
  5. Mihai, FC. 2024 Role of geography in plastic pollution research and societal implications. Documenti Geografici (under review)
  6. Submitted manuscripts:
  7. Mihai, FC, Ulman S-R, Pop V. Macro and microplastic pollution in Romania: Addressing knowledge gaps and potential solutions under the circular economy framework. Peerj (under review)
  8. Ulman S-R, Mihai, FC. Circularity and plastic pollution concerns from the level of an accommodation unit: a theoretical barometer approach. Journal of Sustainable Tourism (under review)
B. Book chapters:
  1. Mihai, FC Minea, I. Ulman S-R. 2023. Water resources preservation through circular economy: The Case of Romania In: M G. Zamparas, G.L. Kyriakopoulos (Eds) Water Management and Circular Economy, Elsevier, 143-176,
  2. Mihai, F. C., Markley, L. A., Khan, F. R., Suaria, G., & Gundogdu, S. (2023). Microplastics in Freshwater Environments. In: M. Vithanage, M.N.V. Prasad (Eds) Microplastics in the Ecosphere: Air, Water, Soil, and Food, WILEY, 163-175.
  3. Mihai, FC, Ulman S-R 2024. Plastic waste trade issues and environmental contamination in Romania. In: Gündoğdu S. (Ed) Plastic Waste Trade - A New Colonialist Means of Pollution Transfer. Springer-Nature pp. 191- 216
  4. Mihai, FC, Meidiana C., Elagroudy S., Ulman S-R , Gutberlet J., Carvalho. C., 2024 Plastic waste management for zero waste to landfills: potential, challenges, and opportunities. In Bhat, R.A.; Dar G. H., Hajam, Y.A. (Eds). Zero waste management technologies: Advanced transformations for resource development and environmental protection, Springer Nature Switzerland AG. (in press)
  5. Mihai, FC, Pop V., Ulman S-R, Ozunu A., 2024. Policy implementation and management of microplastics in freshwater and soil. In: Kurniawan T.A. & Abdelkader A. (Eds). Microplastic pollution in environment Implications, detection and treatment strategies. CRC Press (in press)
C. Conference proceedings:
  1. Mihai F.C., Ulman S.R. 2022.Post-consumer plastic waste pollution under linear economy mechanisms in Romania. SWS International Scientific Conference on Social Sciences (ISCSS) Conference Proceedings. Section Planning and Development 9(1):1095-1102 DOI: 10.35603/sws.iscss.2022/s15.129


A. National scientific conferences:
  1. Florin-Constantin MIHAI, Ionut MINEA, Mihail EVA, Simona-Roxana ULMAN, Marina IOSUB . Susceptibility assessment of freshwater environments to plastic pollution (SAFE-PP). Start of the Research Project for Young Independent Teams. XVII-th edition International Conference Present Environment and Sustainable Development. 3-4 June, Iași, Romania
  2. Florin-Constantin MIHAI, Mihail EVA, Marina IOSUB, Ionut MINEA Simona-Roxana ULMAN. Poluarea cu plastic a mediilor de apă dulce : abordări și perspective geografice. Zilele Academice Ieşene Simpozionul anual de Geografie “Tendințe și progrese în geoștiințe” , Centrul de Cercetări Geografice– Academia Română, Filiala Iași, 13.10.2022
  3. Mihail EVA, Marina IOSUB, Simona-Roxana ULMAN, Florin-Constantin MIHAI. Demographic and economic changes during the last three decades in EU’s peripheral mountain regions: a case study on Bistrița Catchment Area (Eastern Carpathians).Lucrările Seminarului Geografic Internațional ”Dimitrie Cantemir”, Ediția a XLII-a, Iași, 14-16 octombrie 2022
  4. Florin-Constantin MIHAI, Simona-Roxana ULMAN. Rolul economiei circulare în combaterea poluării cu plastic a mediilor de apă dulce în România. Zilele Academice Ieșene. Metode de cercetare şi surse de date utilizate în analiza fenomenelor socio-economice şi demografice la nivelul României sau în context European. 21 octombrie 2022 (on-line) , ACADEMIA ROMÂNĂ – FILIALA IAŞI Institutul de Cercetări Economice şi Sociale „Gh. Zane” Iași
  5. Ionut MINEA, Marina IOSUB, Florin-Constantin MIHAI. Hydrological Risks and Plastic Pollution Implications in Eastern Carpathians (Romania) Cluj-Napoca, 17-19 martie 2023, 15th International Conference Air and Water - Components of the environment
  6. Florin-Constantin Mihai, Ionut Minea, Simona-Roxana Ulman, Mihail Eva, Marina Iosub, Anca-Maria Chirila - Poluarea cu plastic în bazinul hidrografic Bistrița și implicațiile pentru dezvoltarea durabilă ENVIRONMENT & PROGRESS – 18 – 19 Mai 2023, Cluj-Napoca, România
  7. Anca-Maria Chirilă, Florin-Constantin Mihai, Simona Roxana Ulman - Rolul sectorului turistic în reducerea poluării cu plastic în bazinul hidrografic al râului Bistrița ENVIRONMENT & PROGRESS – 18 – 19 Mai 2023, Cluj-Napoca, România
  8. Anca-Maria Chirilă, Florin-Constantin Mihai, Adrian Grozavu. The Role of Hydrological Factors in the Mobilization and Accumulation of Plastic Waste The 18th Edition of Present Environment and Sustainable Development International Conference Iasi 9-10 iunie 2023
  9. Simona-Roxana Ulman, Florin-Constantin Mihai – Barometru pentru evaluarea circularității la nivelul structurilor de primire turistică – abordare teoretică. Sesiunea științifică națională: Vectori ai dezvoltării rurale în Regiunea Nord-Est a României. ZILELE ACADEMICE IEŞENE Ediţia a XXXVIII-a, Iasi, 12 octombrie 2023.
B. International scientific conferences:
  1. Florin-Constantin MIHAI, Simona-Roxana ULMAN Post-consumer plastic waste pollution under linear economy mechanisms in Romania. IXth SWS International Scientific Conferences. International Scientific Conference on SOCIAL SCIENCES - ISCSS2022, 22-31 August, 2022 Albena, Bulgaria . Section Planning and Development
  2. Simona-Roxana ULMAN, Florin-Constantin MIHAI. Water management in Romania and barriers towards circular economy. IXth SWS International Scientific Conferences. International Scientific Conference on SOCIAL SCIENCES - ISCSS2022, 22-31 August, 2022 Albena, Bulgaria. Section Planning and Development
  3. Simona-Roxana ULMAN, Florin-Constantin MIHAI. Plastic pollution concern in the context of circular tourism. 1st European GREEN Conference 23-26 May, 2023, Vodice, Croatia
  4. Florin-Constantin MIHAI. Role of circular economy in combating freshwater plastic pollution in Eastern Carpathians (Romania) Waste to Resources 2023. 5-7 June 2023 Tunis, Tunisia (video presentation)
  5. Florin-Constantin MIHAI Plastic pollution challenges for urban freshwater bodies: the case of Piatra Neamt city (Romania). The 1st International Webinar « The city at the heart of sustainability and digital challenges: Perspectives on urban and environmental issues CHSDC 2023. 9 &10 July, 2023. USTHB – Algeria (video presentation)
  6. Florin-Constantin MIHAI, Simona-Roxana ULMAN. Plastic waste management challenges in a mountain city of Eastern Carpathians (Romania). 9th GEO Congress Barcelona, Spain, 4-8 September 2023 Abstract available at:
  7. Florin-Constantin Mihai. Rolul evenimentelor hidrologice în mobilizarea plasticului: dovezi de poluare istorică. Seminar științific cu participare internațională consacrat Zilei Internaționale pentru Reducerea Riscurilor la Dezastre. Institutul de Ecologie și Geografie, Chisinau, Republica Moldova, 13 octombrie 2023 [online]
  8. Marina Iosub, Ionuț Minea, Florin-Constantin Mihai. Understanding the Link between Hydrological Risks and Plastic Pollution in the Eastern Carpathians of Romania, Mediterranean Geosciences Union (MedGU), Istanbul, Turkey, 26-30 November 2023
  1. Florin-Constantin MIHAI Plastic pollution of freshwater environments: impacts and mitigation strategies. JASSY Summer School 20 July 2023,
  2. Florin-Constantin MIHAI Plastic waste management and urban water pollution. EC2U Joint Master Program on Sustainable Cities and Communities. Universidade de Coimbra. Portugal (21.11.2023, online)
  3. Florin-Constatin MIHAI. Waste management and urban pollution. 29 November 2022 (online), Universida de Coimbra, Portugal
  1. Florin-Constantin MIHAI is member of Scientists' Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty


Project Leader: Researcher III Ph.D Florin-Constantin MIHAI