The Plastic Blog


How many micro-plastic fibres have you eaten or drunk today? Are they bad for your health?

Where did they come from? The fibres seen above were found in drinking water.

STEM the lens         URGENT– Calling all people who wear contact lenses.

Contact lenses are not bio-degradable. Research is now underway to work out the best way to dispose of used lenses and their packaging. For now – DISPOSE OF USED CONTACT LENSES IN THE SOLID WASTE, DO NOT WASH DOWN THE SINK OR FLUSH DOWN THE TOILET.

This blog will keep you up to date with the research and advise.

How many microplastic fibres come from your washing machine?

For an average load of 6kg, it is estimated that 700,000 fibres could be released. That’s a lot of non-biodegradable waste going into the waste water system.

Read more at  Napper and Thompson, Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol112, issues 1-2, 2016, 39-45

Microplastic fibres in beer?

24 brands of German beers were tested for microplastic fibres. They found them in all samples ranging from 2-79 fibres L-1

This was along with 12-109 fragments L-1and 2-66 granules L-1.

Read more atLiebezeit G, Lieberzeit E, Food Additives & Contaminents: vol 31, 2014 – issue 9

Fungus eats plastic

In a rubbish tip in Pakistan, an amazing discovery was made. The fungus Aspergillus tubingensis was degrading the plastic, polyurethane. The mycelium of the fungus spread into the polyurethane and it broke down in a few weeks rather than many years. This was seen using scanning electron microscopy. The technique of Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy was used to confirm the breakage of the chemical bonds. This is a very important observation in the battle against plastic pollution.

Read more at:   Environmental Pollution  Volume 225, June 2017, Pages 469-480

biodegradable’ ‘recyclable’  ‘renewable’  ‘sustainable’ ‘natural synthetic’

What do YOU think these words mean?

Can you define them??  Ask your friends and you will be amazed at the discussion it will cause. Here are some definitions to start the discussion. Email us on  with your comments.

Biodegradable means that the material iscapable of being decomposed by bacteria, fungi or other living organisms, normally within days, weeks or months. The elements and molecules from the material are returned to the earth or sea.

Recyclable. Recycling is the process of breaking down and re-using materials that would otherwise bethrown away as rubbish. A good example of this is using PET plastic bottles to make polyester fabric, which is then used in garment manufacture.

Renewable’ Some types of energy, are renewable because they have an endless supply of the original energy source. These are solar, wind and waves. They occur naturally and keep going.

Renewable is being confused with recyclable. Some materials such as wood, oxygen, leather and some plastics are now being classifying as renewable, because with time, effort and further energy they can be reused. This definitely sounds more like recycling. However, emotive words sell products.

‘Sustainable’  sustainable resource is one that can be continuously replenished, and can be used without there being a decrease in supply. Bamboo has been celebrated in the fashion industry as ‘the worlds most sustainable resource’.  This is because bamboo is very fast growing, reaching maturity in about four years, without the need for pesticide and fertiliser. Here is a quote from London Fashion Week 2018. The ambition must be applauded; the transparency and scientific credibility is doubtful.

Sustainability will be at the centre of innovation in the fashion industry in 2018, with front-runners harnessing the circular economy to unlock technical innovations, efficiencies, and mission orientation’.

Natural synthetic

This is a confusing term, as the terms are mutually exclusive. It has been coined to describe fibres that originate from a living source, usually trees, but then the chemical process to convert the wood pulp into cellulose and then fibre, makes the product a plastic. The resulting fibres are much less likely to be biodegradable. An example of this is cellulose acetate, marketed as a ‘natural plastic’.


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