SOCOTEC is one of the first UK laboratories to provide microplastic analysis as a commercial service. Developed in-house by SOCOTEC’s specialist chemistry team, SOCOTEC accurately isolates microplastics from all other content including: sand, glass, stone as well as other inorganic and organic particles. In addition, SOCOTEC’s infrared equipment can identify the type of plastic which can be important in identifying sources.
Microplastics are defined as any fragment or particle of plastic less than 5mm in diameter, and can be classified as microfibers from synthetic clothing, microbeads from cosmetic items or fragments of plastic such as polyethylene, polypropylene and PET which can originate from varying sources.
The new service provision has supported The Canal & River Trust with microplastic analysis and sediment testing. The Trust has been undertaking a project to investigate the litter and plastic problem within the UK’s canals and rivers. In addition to gathering data on the amount and types of litter collected at various locations, SOCOTEC has been providing microplastic analysis on sediment samples to analyse the extent of the problem.
Of the fifteen samples taken from canals and rivers, SOCOTEC has discovered that 100% of samples contained microplastics. SOCOTEC’s final report incorporated the total number and physical type of particles present. Samples came from a range of both industrial and rural site with microplastic contamination ranging from a few hundred particles per kg to hundreds of thousands. The information will support The Trust in their awareness campaigns; collecting and publicising data on the scale of the plastic problem in the UK waterways aims to urge communities and policy makers to help tackle this global problem.
With the focus on plastic pollution gathering more and more momentum, SOCOTEC UK can support all projects wishing to obtain data on microplastics content within various sample matrices.
For more information on microplastic analysis, please click here.
For more information on The Canal & River Trust and their Plastic Challenge, please click here.