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Good practice guidance for risk management of microplastics in soil (P3283)

Plastic pollution is a significant issue that requires urgent attention. One of the key goals of the UN Plastics Summit in 2022 was to establish an international legally binding agreement to address pollution caused by plastic, including microplastics and are one of the priorities for the 2022 to 2023 UK REACH work program.  Microplastics refer to any form of plastic that measures between 1 µm to 5 mm. These tiny particles pose a threat to ecosystems and human health through the food chain.

In recent times, there has been an increasing demand from clients for soil testing specifically targeting microplastics. However, when it comes to guidance on risk assessment and management of microplastics, the available resources are somewhat fragmented. Among the various guidance documents, one notable and comprehensive source is the guidance developed by the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council in the United States, accessible here.

In the United Kingdom, despite the efforts of academic institutions such as Portsmouth University and Manchester University, there is a lack of sufficient guidance to assist professionals in addressing the risks associated with microplastics in soil and water. However, in 2022, UKWIR published a report titled "Investigation of the Fate and Behaviour of Microplastics in Wastewater Treatment Works," which recommended further research into the impact of microplastics on soil invertebrates and overall biodiversity, particularly in relation to the disposal of sludges.

Project objectives

Stage 1   - Understanding the issue

  • What are the different types of microplastics found in soil and water 
  • The sources of the microplastics
  • How microplastics are regulated   - in soil, drinking water, and other water environment
  • Their impacts on ecology and human health 

Stage 2 – Risk assessment and management good practice

  • What to look out for when sampling in soil and water
  • What are the pros and cons of existing analytical methods
  • Available and emerging remediation options for microplastics in soil and water 
  • Using case studies to demonstrate good practice 
  • Identifying what research and guidance that are applicable to UK sites
  • Informing UK practitioners, of the problems and improving their awarenessIdentifying areas where more research is needed


Project status

This project is currently seeking technical and financial support.

Further information
For further information or to get involved with this project please contact Joanne Kwan.

Project proposal
(Adobe PDF File)