Guardian, Mathew Taylor   Sewage plants are contributing to plastic pollution of the ocean with millions of tiny beads spilling into the seas around the UK, according to a new report. Dozens of UK wastewater treatment plants use tiny plastic pellets, known as Bio-Beads, to filter chemical and organic contaminants from sewage, according to a study from the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition (CPPC). It found that many millions of these pellets, which are only about 3.5mm wide, have been spilled and ended up in the environment.

Report author Claire Wallerstein said once the Bio-Beads had been released they are hard to spot and almost impossible to remove – yet can cause significant harm to marine wildlife. “We are learning more all the time about the environmental impact of consumer microplastics in wastewater, such as laundry fibrescosmetic microbeads and tyre dust,” said Wallerstein.

“However, it now seems that microplastics used in the wastewater plants’ own processes could also be contributing to the problem.” However, South West Water it said there was “no evidence that Bio-Beads are currently being released into the marine environment” from any of its sites. It said only nine of its 655 plants use Bio-Beads but did accept there had been spills in the past that “were subsequently cleaned up”.

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