• Innovation
May 23, 2019

The microplastics problem

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic measuring just a few millimetres in size that end up in the natural environment, mainly in seas and oceans.


They can come from personal hygiene products, due to other plastics degrading, urban pollution, nautical materials or synthetic textiles.

We are facing an ever-increasing problem: global plastics have increased 300-fold every year since 1950. If plastic were a country, it would be the world’s 20th-largest economy, ahead of Argentina, Austria or Egypt.

It is no longer an island of plastics in the middle of the distant Pacific Ocean. A study has found a concentration of microplastics in the French Pyrenees similar to those found in the middle of cities such as Paris.

The ocean ends up being a dumping ground for microplastics, contaminating many of its species. This is how microplastics pass from the sea to fish and from fish to humans (who ingest them), and end up in salt and also in tap and bottled water distribution systems.

The situation is so serious that a study by the Austrian Federal Environment Agency and the Medical University of Vienna has found samples of microplastics in human faeces.

Although it remains to be seen how they affect our health, their consequences are unlikely to be positive.

We can stop the growth of this global problem by changing our consumption habits: cutting down on plastics, ending our throwaway culture, using products through to the end of their working life, and finding better ways to reuse and recycle.

A range of organisations are now taking drastic measures in response to this alarming situation, such as the use of biodegradable and/or reusable shopping bags or regulations banning single-use plastics.

With just a few changes in your daily life, you too can cut down on microplastics:

  • Avoid single-use plastics such as bags, plates, plastic cutlery and straws. Such objects can be easily replaced with other non-polluting, reusable ones.
  • Switch from bottled water to filtered tap water in reusable bottles.
  • Choose products with less packaging. Packaging-free shops are a good option when it comes to food, detergents and cosmetics.
  • Take your own bags when shopping.
  • If you must use plastic, try to use a biodegradable option.

You can find more tips on our Instagram account.

In brief, be sure to make the 3Rs part of your daily life: reduce, recycle, and, above all, reuse.

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