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Plastics from source to sink

Providing evidence to understand and tackle the plastics challenge in freshwaters.

Key contacts

Professor Steve Ormerod

Professor Steve Ormerod


+44 (0)29 2087 5871
Professor Isabelle Durance

Professor Isabelle Durance

Professor and Director of the Water Research Institute

+44 (0)7800 774491 / +44 (0)29 2087 4484


Plastic pollution is well recognised in marine ecosystems but less attention is being given to freshwater environments. However, tonnes of plastics pass through rivers every year, affecting their ecosystems and people who depend on them.

The density of plastic particules in river beds sometimes can be as much as half a million particules per square meter, much more than the living organisms present in the rivers.

Professor Steve Ormerod Professor

Plastic pollution is perceived as an increasing priority by the water industry, environmental regulators, government, the plastics and packaging industries, and ordinary people concerned about the state of the environment.

Our group is approaching this issue from a range of disciplinary angles. This includes researching sustainable behaviours around plastic use, designing more environmentally-friendly plastics, and investigating the potential impact of plastics on freshwater ecosystems.


Current initiatives

Aerial view of Llyn Brianne reservior

Microplastics in river organisms

Investigating the sources, transfers and ecological implications of plastic pollution across freshwater environments.

PhD projects

Biodegradable plastics in freshwater ecosystems

Cascading effects of micro and nano-plastics on lipid quality and transfer through freshwater planktonic ecosystems

  • Student: Ben McClay
  • Supervisor: Irina Guschina
  • Partner: Cardiff Harbour Authority

Influence of microplastics on freshwater ecosystems at a catchment scale and the contribution of tyre dust

Transport and fate of microplastics

Group members