OFF Activities Talks

March Meeting Environmental Impacts of Plastics and Microplastics

Scott Wilson, from Macquarie University on marine debris, micro-plastics and litter assessment.

Monday 28th March 2022 7.30pm

Dr Scott Wilson spoke passionately about microplastics, their sources and increasing prevalence in the environment.  Scott previously worked as a Senior Research Fellow at Macquarie University’s Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences. Scott’s other role is Research Director of the Australian Microplastic Assessment Project (AUSMAP). This nationwide citizen science project identified microplastic hotspots and source reduction solutions. His +20 years of research experience in ecotoxicology, ecological assessments, and water quality monitoring resulted in his recent appointment as Chief Scientist at the EarthWatch Institute Australia.

A combined audience of over 40 (live and ZOOM) heard Scott explain that microplastics were typically 1-5mm particles of plastic and rubber which result from production of plastic & rubber items and clothing, construction of synthetic playgrounds and playing fields, as well as breakdown of plastics in the environment (on land and in our waterways and oceans).  It is estimated we ingest microplastics equilvalent to 1 credit card (6g) per week! Scott emphasised that everyone can make a difference by considering 9 R’s in this order:

  • Rethink
  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Refurbish
  • Repair
  • Repurpose
  • Rot
  • Recycle

He highlighted recycling of plastic is important however we can make a bigger difference by choosing/buying non-plastic items and those items not packed in plastic. Scott mentioned ‘rubber crumb’ contaminating the environment surrounding synthetic playing fields (24,100 rubber pieces/m2) and playgrounds (12,200 rubber pieces/m2) was already a major concern. He has recently assisted in guiding OFF members in the initial microplastics survey at Poulton Park.

As global plastic production is increasing at an exponential rate, it is highly likely that many more microplastics will find their way into our environment and our food chain! A sobering thought! 

Scott’s talk is available on YouTube:

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