Understanding Microplastics in the Scottish Environment

16th March 2020

by Simon Hann, Olly Jamieson, Dr Chris Sherrington

This report results from a project for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in which we assessed the pathways, fate and environmental impact of microplastics in Scotland.

Specific objectives of the project were to:

  • appraise the main environmental risks posed by microplastic pollution in Scotland’s terrestrial, freshwater and marine environment; 
  • determine and quantify the main sources and pathways of microplastics in Scotland’s terrestrial, freshwater and marine environment;
  • determine further work that needs to b ecarried out to strengthen the evidence base and propose mitigation measures.

Large plastic items can entangle marine life ,as well as be ingested by larger marine animals. Microplastics are small (<5mm) fragments of plastic which are of additional concern because of their potential to accumulate organic contaminants in increasing quantities with decreasing size. When they enter aquatic systems, microplastics can be ingested by a range of organisms and accumulate through the food web, causing harm to health and the environment.

The report is available for view and download here.