Microplastics in the Australian Marine Environment: Issues and Options
The paper centres on analysis of key sources: personal care, cosmetics, and cleaning products (PCCPs), synthetic materials (microfibers), tyres, fertilisers and biosolids; and key pathways that include wastewater and sewerage treatment plants. It explores mitigation and management approaches; focussing on circular economy approaches, product stewardship, extended producer responsibility, consumer behaviour and regulatory options. The paper concludes by outlining possible policy options for managing and mitigating impacts of microplastics in the Australian marine environment.
Primary microplastics in the marine environment: scale of the issue, sources, pathways and current policy
This paper analyses research on microplastic pollution, specifically focussingon intentionally added microplastics. Intentionally added microplastics are found in industrial and domestic cleaning products, medicines, synthetic clothing, personal care and cosmetic products (PCCPs), construction materials and car tyres. Studies have reported that over 50,000 microplastic particles can be found in one gram of PCCPs product and as many as 17,700,000 fibres can be released during single 5kg washing. This paper reviews the policies that address microplastic pollution in the European Union (EU), the United States (USA) and Australia. The EU is a leader in the development of plastic pollution policies, and in particular, intentionally added microplastics and provides a useful framework for understanding how this issue can be addressed by a federation such as Australia.
Plastic pollution is a growing issue in Australia and globally. In its January 2016 report, the World Economic forum estimated that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic waste in the oceans and that this amount is forecast to grow to 250 million tonnes in 2025.