Macroplastic pollution in freshwater environments: focusing public and policy action

Winton, D.J, Anderson, L.G, Rocliffe, S and Loiselle, S (2020) 'Macroplastic pollution in freshwater environments: focusing public and policy action.' Science of the Total Environment, 704. 0135242. ISSN 0048-9697

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Understanding and managing plastic pollution is an increasingly important environmental priority for policy makers, businesses and scientists. Awareness of the potential damage to the world’s oceans has grown but there is less attention given to freshwater ecosystems. Yet, rivers are the dominant source of plastic pollution to the marine environment, as well as a potential sink, accumulating plastic from multiple sources. Actions to reduce the presence of macroplastics in rivers is fundamental to conserving both freshwater and marine environments, but there is limited understanding of potential pollution sources, vectors and storage. Importantly, there are only a handful of studies examining the typologies of freshwater macroplastic pollution, often using different categories and collection methods. This impedes setting priorities for scientific investigation and mitigation measures. The present study identifies the most prevalent macroplastic items in freshwater environments in Europe, with a focus on consumer plastic items, i.e. those that could potentially be reduced by targeted actions by the public, as well as industrial and government intervention. Our analysis addresses the differences between reported macroplastics in freshwater and marine environments as well as those estimated from litter rates. Our results identify a macroplastic “top ten”, i.e. those dominant plastic typologies that require a more focused effort to reformulate their use and management, as well as setting a common baseline for a more consistent data gathering and reporting approach.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: macroplastics, freshwater ecosystems, single-use plastics, consumer behaviour
Divisions: School of Sciences
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Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2019 15:19
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 15:47
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