RESTCo: How to Clean Up Microplastic Pollution on a Beach or Shoreline
This page provides some images to demonstrate the beach microplastic clean-up procedure
described in our De-plasticizing the Ocean document.
In the real world, you would use a bigger box (probably not with glass sides), shovels and
a bigger skimmer.
Microplastics are the most dangerous plastic for seabirds and other small animals
inhabiting the shoreline, as they are a size which those creatures can eat, either because
they are mistaken for food, or are accidentally ingested with food due to proximity.
In the demo, we start by putting some microplastic into the aquarium, just so you know it's there.
Microplastic in bottom of aquarium for demo (with a dead blade of grass)
Then we take some aquarium gravel, including some red stones, so the microplastic can become
Multi-coloured aquarium gravel in package.
Aquarium gravel added to cover the microplastic pollution.
Can you see the microplastic now? It's in there, buried in the pile - just like microplastic
pieces are embedded in sand or gravel on a beach or shoreline. As birds and animals peck and
forage through the stones and grains for food, they will unearth the microplastics, and possibly
Next we add water. In the real world,
you might put water in your box first, then add the sand or gravel, especially after the first
round of cleaning.
Microplastic, gravel and water. The water was added with enough force to move some of the gravel.
Next, we stir up the gravel so the microplastic can work free. You could use a rake or shovel for this.
After agitation, the microplastic has been freed from the gravel, and is now floating on the water.
With the microplastic freed from the gravel, it can now be skimmed off the top of the water.
We recommend using a skimmer made from Eco-Tec ADsorb-it filter fabric. It allows water to pass through,
but collects particles (like microplastics) and adsorbs any hydrocarbons you may encounter, as well.
Microplastic picked up on skimmer (filter fabric).
So if you want to clean up the plastic from a beach, by all means pick up the stuff you
can see to make the venue less unsightly. But while you're at it, how about cleaning up some
of the microplastic pollution - the stuff that is harming wildlife today.
If you are looking for the filter fabric in Canada, contact
ROSCUE (Rapid Oil Spill Clean Up Equipment).