The Microplastics Sub-Project of our Global Research Translation Award (GRTA) Project is working with partners in Malaysia to build a network of academics, industry partners and policy-makers to identify and quantify the distribution of microplastics and assess the potential environmental risks.
Globally, around half of total plastic production is used for single-use packaging; around 10-14 million tonnes of this ends up in the oceans every year. Plastic gradually breaks down to produce ever-smaller microplastics, which are eaten by and cause stress to a wide variety of organisms that are vital parts of food webs. Counting microplastics in water and sediments is challenging.
Through ongoing collaborative work, a cheap and quick methodology has been developed to map microplastic levels and distribution across a range of habitats and ecosystems. Alongside supplying simple equipment, the network is creating a multilingual video manual to aid its use and ensure consistency of practice for data comparisons. A "public information" film will disseminate microplastics-associated problems and research findings to the general public and policy influencers through a range of media options.
Suhaimi Suratman, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Malaysia
Moritz Muller, Swinburne University of Technology in Sarawak, Malaysia
UEA, Andrew Mayes, School of Chemistry, UEA, UK