We use cookies to imporve your experience. By using our site, you consent to our cookie policy Learn more
arrow arrow_up breadcrumb-chevron-right breadcrumb-home dropdown-arrow-down loader GALogoWUNEP GALogo2018 GALogo2019 menu read-more-plus rrss-email rrss-facebook rrss-flickr rrss-instagram rrss-linkedin rrss-twitter rrss-vimeo rrss-youtube rrss_google_plus rrss_skype rrss_web pdf search share Completed In Process Ideas In Develpment Toogle Toogle Thumbnail View List View play close filter-collapse filter edit media_photo_library media_video_library graphics pictures videos collections next

Sources of microplastics

Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic commonly defined as less than 5 millimetres (mm) in size. They include nanoplastics, which are generally agreed to be less than 1 micrometre (μm) (GESAMP 2016). Microplastics exist in many forms, including fragments, fibres (referred to as“microfibres”), spheres, films and pellets. Now ubiquitous in the environment, they are present in food, water and air (UNEP and GRID-Arendal 2016; FAO 2017). There are two types of microplastics (Arthur et al. 2009): primary microplastics are manufactured for the purpose of being added to (or used in the production of) other products; secondary microplastics are created by the fragmentation and degradation of macroplastics (i.e. plastic items greater than 5 mm in size). Most microplastics found in the environment are secondary microplastics. Microplastics generated on land can make their way to the oceans via household drainage, wastewater systems, street drains, poorly managed waste disposal sites, run-off from agricultural soils or transport through the air. Once microplastics enter the marine environment, they are extremely difficult and expensive to remove.

Year: 2021

From collection: Drowning in Plastics: Marine Litter and Plastic Waste Vital Graphics

Cartographer: GRID-Arendal

Tags: marine litter plastic waste vital graphics

Graphics included in same album

View all media

Publications it appears in

View all publications

Related activities

View all activities