Microplastics, containing harmful chemicals, are formed when plastic items break down. Microplastics are less than 5mm in length and have the ability to leach into our waterways due to their size. Scientists have found microplastics in our oceans, the ice in the Antarctic and our drinking water.

This means that these microplastics are being found in the water we consume, and they are also being found in the food we eat. This is because these microplastics are also finding their way into soils.

Microplastics are being found in the
water and the food we consume.

Researchers at Cardiff University have studied microplastics in Europe and have concluded that the continent is the world’s global reservoir for microplastics. This is due to the contamination of our farmlands, caused by the fertiliser that is used.

To create a circular economy, sewage sludge, a by-product from cleaned sewage, is used as an organic fertiliser. The sludge is used as fertiliser as it is full of nutrients the soil needs for healthy crop growth. However, the sludge is also full of microplastics, that are then leached into the soil. Scientists have found that food grown using these fertilisers contain high concentrations of microplastics.

The UK has one of the largest concentrations of microplastics in its soils, as researchers have recorded that there are 500 – 1,000 microplastic particles per square metre of agricultural land applied per year.

This comes as a warning for those using single-use plastics, as these microplastics are now being found to cause health problems in humans, including heart disease, cell damage and affecting necessary hormones for growth.