Big question

BQ12 - How do we achieve zero harm from plastics via our operations and activities by 2050?



We are currently working on the approach to answering this Big Question, and more information will be given here soon.

The areas that this Big Question covers includes:

  • Evaluate if we are contributing harmful plastics to the water cycle
  • Establish their source and effective control measures to remove them

Once we understand where the gaps are, we will produce a route map – this is a plan as to how we will answer our Big Question.

The route map will have a number of key elements. At the top will be our Big Question and then we will look to see what Outcomes we need from the research programme -if we can achieve all these outcomes we can answer the Big Question. This is the stage we are currently at for this Big Question.

The next stage will be to think about the key benefits we want the research projects to deliver to meet these outcomes.

Following this, we will plan the research projects to help deliver the benefits.

UKWIR – the UK and Irish water industry’s research body – has commissioned the first study of its kind in the UK to develop a robust approach to sampling and detection of microplastic particles in the treated water cycle. This included accurately measuring the presence of microplastic particles in potable (drinking) water, treated wastewater and in the solid residues (sludge) produced by both the water and wastewater treatment processes. Please click here to view more information.


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Achieving zero harm from plastics via water industry operations and activities Phase 1.

Project Status - Project Completed

Workshop purpose is to develop the research challenges that need answering to address the issues of reducing/removing plastics from the terrestrial water system. Such challenges could total any number, depending on the outputs from the preparatory work, but are expected to be between 3-8 arising. Depending on the outputs from the preparatory research, it may be that the research challenges will require ranking to identify the 3-4 key ones to be addressed through this research programme.


Sink to River - River to Tap - A review of potential risks from nano-particles & microplastics.

Project Status - Project Completed

Category - Drinking Water Quality & Health

There is significant interest in the prevalence of nano-particles and microplastics entering the environment.

There is a lack of understanding for the water industry with regards to the occurrence, fate and behaviour of these particles during transport and Waste Water Treatment; once dischrged to the river system there is limited understanding of how these particles behave; if river water is abstracted down-stream there is a lack of knowledge around the occurrenceand degree of removal of these particles through water treatment processes.

Projects coming soon.

Projects coming soon.

Projects coming soon.

Projects coming soon.