Marine and freshwater microplastic research in South Africa

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 9:15pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 04/2017
Authors: Carina Verster, Karin Minnaar, Hindrik Bouwman
Journal title: Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management
Volume: 13
Issue: 3
Pages: 533 - 535

South Africa has a vibrant plastics manufacturing industry, but recycling is limited and insufficient with a notable proportion of the unmanaged waste entering the environment. South Africa is a developing country with microplastics research in its inception. Very little is known about freshwater microplastics, and studies on South African marine microplastics are limited but actively being pursued. In a water-scarce country, protection of freshwater resources remains a priority, but in the face of other socioeconomic issues (poverty, unemployment, and HIV/AIDS), it receives insufficiently effective attention. The full impact and risks of microplastics pollution in water is yet to be discovered. The risks may be enhanced in a developing country where many communities remain largely dependent on the land and natural waters. With South Africa being a water-scarce country, the quality of its aquatic resources is at an even greater risk with an assumed increasing background of microplastics, emphasizing the need for further research. A South African Water Research Commission–funded project is being undertaken to derive research priorities, but there is an immediate need for improved recycling and waste management.

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