Session: Microplastics in Wastewater: The Hidden Threat

Friday, 15 March, 11:00 – 12:00

Over time, the growing number of anthropogenic activities has led to an increase in the amount of waste produced, including sewage, and plastics. Much of this waste, especially in certain regions of the world, undergoes little or no treatment, and in some cases no disposal. Plastic enters different sizes and shapes and eventually breaks down in smaller pieces known as microplastics (MPs), and microfibres (MFs), fragments and beads that are less than five millimeters in length.

A contributing factor to this trend is the increasing amount of personal care products used in our daily lives: for example gels, and scrubs that contain microplastics and end up in our sinks and wastewater, eventually reaching the waterways. Moreover, the issue of plastic microfibres accumulation in aquatic environments, along with pharmaceuticals and other toxic substances, has been linked to wastewater disposal and application of sewage sludge to agricultural fields for nutrient supply and soil. The event will explore the key findings, knowledge, and methodologies to assess the presence of plastic, microplastics, and microfibers in wastewater. Also, the event will be an opportunity to take stock of the current situation, explore possible solutions as well as the way forward. Please register here

Moderator: Dr. Brennan VanDyke, Deputy Director, Science Division

Opening remarks:TBC

Keynote:Mr. Peter Kershaw, Expert, Joint Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection 

Panel discussion: 

  • Dr. Birguy Lamizana, Programme Management Officer, UN Environment 
  • Ms. Patricia Villarrubia Gomez, Plastic Pollution Expert, GRID Arendal 
  • Prof. Mark Sutton, Environmental Physicist, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Natural Environment Research Council 
  • Mr. Amish Gosai, Director of European & Materials Strategy, Textile Exchange 

Background materials:

Organizers and Partners: Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities, UN Environment

Contact: riccardo.zennaro@un.org

UN Environment Technical Expert: Birguy Lamizana <birguy.lamizana@un.org>