Polls find UK public concerned about microplastic pollution

People in the UK are concerned about microplastic pollution and believe action needs to be taken, polls carried out by Xeros Technology and Matter have found.


The first poll, commissioned by Xeros Technology, found that 80 per cent of the of 1,500 adults polled are concerned about the impact of microplastics on the environment and human health, and 60 per cent said they do not feel the UK government is doing enough to tackle plastic pollution, including that of microplastics.

A separate poll, commissioned by Matter, found that 78  per cent of 2,068 adults polled believe microfibre filters should be made mandatory on all new washing machines sold in the UK, and 58  per cent would be willing to pay more for a washing machine that comes with a microfibre filter.

The opinion polls were conducted ahead of the launch of a whitepaper challenging the government to do more to tackle microplastic pollution by mandating for filters in all new washing machines.

The whitepaper, co-authored by A Plastic Planet, Matter, PlanetCare, Xeros Technology, and the 5 Gyres Institute, will be presented to politicians at an event to be hosted by Matter in the House of Lords.

It is estimated that UK laundry generates an average of 17,234 tonnes of microfibres annually, a figure that will rise with demand for synthetic fibres used in ‘fast fashion’. Based on current trends, the amount of synthetic microfibres entering the ocean between 2015 – 2025 could accumulate to an excess of 22 million tonnes.

Despite this, the Xeros poll revealed that 60 per cent of British people are unaware of microplastics shedding from clothes during washing.

It is reported that microplastic pollution has increased 10-fold since 2005, with over 171 trillion microplastic particles in oceans. As well as being pervasive in the environment, microplastics have been found in human stools, blood, lung tissue, breast milk, the placenta, and the brain.

In a statement, Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, said: “People are extremely worried about what plastic is doing to our health and the world around us. Fortunately, we have at our fingertips many of the solutions we need to tackle this crisis decisively.

“Business can be the greatest force for change and innovation the world has ever known. But business has to take its lead from governments delivering the kind of legislation the British public are calling for. This General Election year it’s clear there is not a moment to lose.”