The effects of microplastics remain unclear, but preventative methods are being studied
While the effects of microplastics, as well as the chemicals and bacteria they carry, are still under investigation, preventative methods are already being examined. ILVO intends to develop ways for reducing plastic waste as much as possible, with new, more natural materials for nets being one option. Some of the possibilities include hemp, flax or sisal, all of which are biodegradable. Another possibility is bio-plastics, which must also be as biodegradable as possible. An example of this is keratin, which is found in chicken feathers, and is already being used in a range of plastic applications. Another aspect involves cleaning up the plastic that is already present in the oceans, which is why the institution is investigating bacteria that can biodegrade plastics. They are screening bacteria for certain characteristics and believe that initial tests will soon be conducted for biodegrading plastic in the sea.
Good news: Canada and the US prohibit microbeads. Manufacturers to follow
Fortunately there is some good news too. The use of microplastics in bodycare products such as body scrubs will hopefully soon be prohibited in most countries around the world. This includes the US, where 8 states have already outlawed microplastics, while Canada is busy instituting a total ban. The Netherlands intends to introduce a ban in 2017 and most of the major cosmetics and bodycare manufacturers have already consented to eradicating the use of microplastics in their products.