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Headed up by The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) the Aotearoa Impacts and Mitigation of Microplastics project is taking place in sites across the country, including Lyttelton.
You may have seen ESR research scientist Olga Pantos and her team on the Waterfront House pontoon, which is where one of the pilot trials is taking place.
"To investigate what is happening to the plastics that get into our oceans, and what this means for our environment, we are doing controlled experiments by putting known plastics out into the sea and looking at what settles and grows on them, what chemical pollutants concentrate up on them, and the changes that occur to the plastic itself," says Olga.
There is estimated to be over 15 trillion pieces of microplastic debris in the world’s oceans, 80 per cent of which originate from land-based activities.
Worldwide there is increasing public and regulatory concern about the impact of microplastics on our environment, food, and health.
"Differences in the properties of different plastics may affect how they interact with biota and their impacts on the environment," says Olga.
"To address this we are using a range of different plastics in our experiment.
"The pilot study we are currently running has two commonly used plastics, which are also commonly found in the marine environment; nylon (e.g. cable ties) and polyethylene (e.g. plastic bags).
"These plastics will be left out for three months, with samples taken for analysis at three times over this period."
LPC's Environment and Planning Manager Kim Kelleher says her team is excited to be involved.
"We know our teams here at the Port care for the harbour and are really concerned about plastic pollution, so this is a great opportunity for us to help out with this important research."
LPC is proud to be involved in this project, and we will keep you updated with any developments and research findings.
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