The UK and Ireland Spill Association established a Plastic Pollution Working Group in 2021 to pool the knowledge of our members and deliver an Action plan that we believe will be useful to all who are faced with plastic pollution arriving unexpectedly on their beaches. The Action plan includes: understanding the different sources, pathways, and impacts of plastic pollution, recovery equipment for different beach and near-shore environments, assessing the ecological impact of recovery operations and establishing agreed methods for qualitative and quantitative assessment of microplastics in sediments and waters, effective sampling and monitoring techniques, developing effective approaches for the surveillance and modelling of microplastic to aid response efforts and prediction of plastic movement and source identification, sustainability assessment with respect to plastic recovery endpoints and destination of recovered plastics, and identifying effective tools and equipment for controlling plastics at source. We hope to start producing elements of the Action Plan this year and will share them through webinars and supporting documents as deliverables.

The group includes Association members: Oil Spill Response Ltd, Oracle Environmental, Ambipar, and associated members CEFAS and ITOPF all of whom have involvement in plastic recovery incidents after a spillage.

One of the gaps in the responders’ arsenal is how to track the loss of plastic at sea. A presentation we had from Orbital EOS was fascinating. It is clear that in large volumes they can be tracked but as the ‘plume’ breaks up into smaller quantities it becomes much harder as the satellite images are not of sufficient resolution to pick up the minor plumes.

This article from European Space Agency may be of use to the group and to responders elsewhere.

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