For the last 18 months, the Plastic Pollution Working Group (PPWG) has been working together to produce a response plan for small spills of plastic pollution that affect the UK coastline. To do this we examined equipment, created a triage system for these incidents, and developed a response plan and safe system of work guidance for members.

In May 2021 a fire on board the MV X-Press Pearl led to the vessel sinking and the loss of its container contents off the coast of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Several of our member companies have been involved in dealing with its consequences, in particular, the significant loss of plastic nurdles onto the coastline with the spread of as much as 150km.  The group agreed that the learning from this, and members prior experience of MV Rena and other recent incidents eg. MSC Zoe lost 345 containers in Jan 2019 of which the contents of several impacted the Wadden Islands, should be collated and published.

PPWG members agreed that the work should be shared as widely as possible through the publication of guidance documents with each accompanied by a webinar.

There are going to be 8 guidance documents published that will be accompanied by a webinar on the dates below as follows:

29 Nov 2022 – Goal 1: Understand the sources, pathways and impacts of plastic pollution – Oracle Environmental Experts
18 Jan 2023 – Goal 5: Environmental and health risks associated with microplastics – CEFAS
15 Feb 2023 – Goal 10: Identifying effective tools and equipment for controlling plastics at source – Oracle Environmental Experts
15 Mar 2023 – Goal 2: Identifying effective equipment for microplastic recovery – Oracle Environmental Experts, Oil Spill Response, ITOPF
19 Apr 2023 – Goal 4: Method of qualitative and quantitative assessment of microplastics in sediments and water – Oil Spill Response and CEFAS
17 May 2023 – Goal 6: Surveillance and modelling of microplastics – UKEireSpill and OSRL
21 Jun 2023 – Goal 3: Assessment of the ecological impact of microplastic recovery – RSK Raw and CEFAS
11 Jul 2023 – Goal 7: Sustainable endpoints of recovered microplastic waste – RSK Raw

Our aspiration is to combine these into a Field Practice Guide in 2023 and to hold a conference to launch this with workshops to explain its contents.

In the meantime here is the link to the guidance document for Goal 1: Understand the sources, pathways and impacts of plastic pollution produced by Oracle Environmental Experts and its webinar: https://ukeirespill.org/plastic-pollution-working-group/

If you have any queries on this guidance document do contact the authors through Josh Doran who may be contacted at: +44(0)1684 252858; www.oracle-environmental.com; jdoran@oracle-environmental.com.

The work of the members of the PPWG is considerable. Our thanks to its members: