Micro plastics and the impact on the water manufacturing industry

Microplastics have become more present in our waterways and the wider environment in recent due to the sheer volume of plastics we use and throw away in our society today. They make their way into our water system from both direct and indirect sources. For example, particles from car tyres or microfibres from synthetic clothes when washed.  

Also, the breakdown of bigger plastics like litter is washed into drains and things like sanitary products are wrongly flushed down toilets, which break down into smaller particles. It’s undeniable that new measures are required to control the causes of microplastic pollution directly at the source. 

To highlight the severity of the situation, recent research has found that over 99.9% of microplastics are removed from drinking water and wastewater via water company treatment processes. This shocking discovery has led the water industry to call for the government, consumers, and businesses to do more in preventing plastic from entering the water system and sewer network in the first place. 

It was found that untreated water in the natural environment (raw water) had around 4.9 microplastics per litre, whilst water that has been through a treatment process (potable water) had only 0.00011 microplastics per litre. 

This research completed by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology is the most detailed research of its kind to date, ordered by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) to get a better understanding of microplastics in the water system. 

It was in response to a report from the World Health Organisation which stated that there wasn’t any evidence to suggest a risk to human health from the presence of microplastics in drinking water, but said more research is needed into the possible impact. 

Thanks to efficient and proactive food and beverage equipment manufacturers our water treatment processes in the UK have shown to be very effective at removing microplastics from drinking water and treated wastewater sent back to the environment. However, action is required to minimise the amount of plastic that is ending up in our water. 

The ambitious plans laid out in the EU Single Use Plastics Directive demonstrate an important first step in decreasing the quantity of plastic waste accessing drainage systems and need to be fully put in place. The water industry is intending to conduct more research to better show the effects of microplastics on water operations and activities. The findings from this research will be used in discussions to outline and plan the next steps in future research. 

How is water manufacturing being affected by microplastics? 

The issue of microplastics is having a serious effect on the water manufacturing industry. This is because the use of single-use plastics is becoming more and more frowned upon, so manufacturers are facing pressure to come up with new ways to package their water. 

In 2023, the government will introduce an extended producer responsibility system for packaging, which those in the industry will need to accommodate for. If you need help overcoming this and want to become more efficient with your water packaging production, our manufacturing process consulting service will be beneficial to you. 


Contact FESS Group today if you’re in the food processing industry and need help to improve your engineering and operations to become more efficient. 

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