• Project No 2072
  • Project Name Microplastics and the environment
  • Lead Organisation Melbourne Water
  • Research Lead UNSW Sydney

Project Description


Wastewater is known to contain tiny particles of plastic, some may remain at the end of the treatment process. Not visible to the human eye, these plastics can make their way into the environment through wastewater effluents. Microplastics are already somewhat ubiquitous in the environment, due to the wide us of plastics around the world. Plastics have been found in soils, sediments, air, water and even rain in some places.  It is important to understand the background concentrations of microplastics in our local environment.

Microplastics in wastewater effluent are not currently regulated in discharge licences, however, this may change in the future. Currently there are many test methods to detect microplastics. Few have been validated and many are subject to false positive results due to procedural sample contamination. This project will use already developed and validated microplastics sampling and test methods to quantify plastics in the environment including waterways sediments and flows. It will provide an improved understanding of the background levels of microplastic particles in local Australian environments.