Plastics pollution has become one of the biggest threats to the natural environment.

Though microplastics are small, they present a detrimental impact to aquatic wildlife as well as causing health risks to human beings. With the latest research estimating there to be over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste in our oceans, it is fundamental that there is a better understanding of plastics pollution in stormwater.

5.25 trillion

Pieces of plastic waste In our oceans

It is only after understanding the devastating issue that we can strive for change — implementing management systems and plans in order to reduce pollution in our oceans, lakes, and rivers.

The Plastics In Our Oceans

Each year, an average of 8.3 million tons of plastic waste is cast away into the sea. Plastic marine debris makes up such a large percentage of garbage in the ocean that by 2050, it is expected that there will be more discarded pieces of plastics in our oceans than fish!

By the year 2050

Discarded plastics

Fishes

According to the National Ocean Service, commonly found plastics are bottle caps, grocery bags, plastic straws, takeaway containers and food wrappers.

The Dangerous Impact of Plastics Pollution

It can be difficult to envision the devastating impact of plastics pollution if you do not live near the ocean. But, what many do not realize is that microplastics in the ocean actually have the potential to end up on our dinner plates. Queue the old adage, “you are what you eat”.

Sea life and fish consume plastics debris in different forms, which are eventually passed along in the food chain, or seafood that reaches human consumption.

Not only does this mean that humans are unknowingly consuming microplastics, but the sea life itself is rapidly declining by getting tangled in or eating plastic debris. As a result, aquatic ecosystems are drastically impaired and dying at unprecedented rates.

How Does Plastic End Up In the Ocean?

Plastic can make its way into the ocean in a variety of ways — the most common connections are rivers and littering. It’s estimated that 90% of the plastic in the ocean is due to windblown waste from urban areas entering our river network, leading to our lakes and oceans.

Much of this plastic waste comes from
companies and businesses using single-use plastics
that do not consider their waste's impact on the ocean, especially when they dispose of it.

Even if companies and businesses seek to recycle or dispose of their plastic waste in a conscious way, inefficient waste management systems can still allow smaller plastics to be picked up by the wind and carried into stormwater networks, rivers, or oceans.

Urban and Highway
Network

Stormwater retention ponds near highway networks and urban development may be used to collect plastics and pollutants. However, retention ponds are ineffective once they dry up, as wind can quickly move these pollutants elsewhere. This is why it is important to implement stormwater management solutions that specifically address plastics in order to intercept and capture more pollutants and prevent them from reaching the ocean.

Which Industries Produce the Most Plastic Waste?

Industries that use or make single-use plastics often contribute the most waste to our oceans. Worldwide soft drink, candy, snack, and fast-food companies, have been reported as producing the most plastic waste.

As of 2020, many prominent companies have joined a new global commitment called The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which is aimed at reducing plastic use and waste.

Microplastics

Microplastics are created from larger pieces of plastic, broken down by the ocean or weather conditions.

These microplastics are even more difficult to remove from the ocean, and are commonly found on beaches as well as in seafood.

Plastic Management Solutions

Plastic management solutions seek to help reduce the amount of plastic waste and microplastics that pollute our oceans.

There are various ways that plastic management solutions can accomplish this, with different management processes that suit various environments, from manufactured stormwater treatment systems that trap trash and filter pollutants, to public education and water quality management teams and associations.

Worried About Microplastics? Stormwater Management is a Solution

Stormwater management solutions prevent plastics pollution by efficiently managing and filtering stormwater.

Stormwater has the potential to collect many pollutants as it contacts various surfaces, making it important to treat the water and prevent these pollutants, including microplastics, from reaching the ocean.

Effective stormwater management systems can protect the natural environment by capturing pollutants from entering our waterbodies, and also protect precious groundwater.

At first, reducing the amount of pollutants found in stormwater may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but it starts with education and evolves with creative thinking and innovation. Engineers and Researchers have developed a range of passive devices to effectively manage and treat polluted stormwater runoff to combat the growing issue.

Manufactured treatment devices

Often referred to as manufactured treatment devices (MTDs), these engineered stormwater treatment systems have been proven to be highly effective at removing plastics, pollutants and other debris from stormwater runoff.

At Bio Clean, we are dedicated to offering comprehensive solutions to meet your stormwater treatment goals and compliance with local regulations.

We have extensive knowledge of storage, biofiltration, separation, trash capture devices, and even maintenance.

We also offer engineering and project management services, ensuring your project’s success! Bio Clean’s stormwater solutions allow you and your company to make a difference and show customers you are stewards of the environment.

How To Reduce Plastic And Other Ocean Pollutants

There are a range of screening, separation, and filtration methods that aim to reduce plastics and other ocean pollutants. The following is a list of the most popular devices that are frequently used to aid marine wildlife and ecosystems!

Hydrodynamic Separators

Hydrodynamic separators capture debris such as plastics, trash, sediments, and other harmful pollutants by controlling stormwater flow within the system in a swirling motion allowing sediments to sink to the bottom.

At the same time, floatables are contained using baffles or weirs. Hydrodynamic separators prevent pollutants from continuing downstream and ultimately reaching the ocean. These treatment devices are popular due to low maintenance and their ease of installation.

Insertable Storm Drain Filters or Baskets

Insertable storm drain filters are a cost-effective method for stormwater management around most businesses.

These filters are incredibly easy to install and only need basic upkeep, especially in periods of heavy rainfall. The storm drain filters capture trash and debris while reducing the chance of flooding during larger storms. Owners of the insertable storm drain filters can conveniently remove the excess debris from the drain in between storm events.

Biofiltration Devices

Biofiltration devices filter plastics and other pollutants before the treated runoff is released downstream or used for supplemental irrigation, groundwater infiltration, etc.

These devices reduce clogging using multiple chambers and are designed to fit most projects, regardless of site constraints. Biofiltration devices prevent plastics from entering our oceans while saving customers valuable land and meeting requirements with a smaller footprint and the capability of being H20 compliant. Most importantly, biofilters mimic natural processes, by incorporating native plants to aid the treatment and control of stormwater in a technologically advanced yet environmental way.

High-Flow Membrane Filters

High-flow membrane filters are manufactured treatment devices housing pleated paper filters.

These devices are easy and affordable to maintain long-term and effective solutions against large and small plastic debris with high removal rates of heavy metals, TSS, hydrocarbons, and plastics.

End of Pipe Screening Systems

End of pipe screening systems are designed as a last defense, designed catch large debris before it moves into larger water bodies.

These fundamental systems are usually positioned at the final discharge point to a receiving water body. This type of solution can consist of netting, fabrics, or cages installed above ground for frequent inspection and repairs.

Is Banning Plastic A Solution For The Waste Menace?

Without stormwater management solutions aiming to stop plastics pollution, a plastic free ocean seems unlikely. So, without completely banning plastic, what else is being done to reduce the amount of plastic waste polluting our oceans?

Both Images source:
https://revitalization.org/article/philippines-finally-hits-river-cleanup-strategy-works/

The Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act was introduced in the USA in 1972. The legislation was initially passed in response to worrying research demonstrating the amount of waste and debris in our oceans.

The Clean Water Act is in place to help regulate waterways and company waste systems throughout different states, and it calls on the local government bodies to ensure that the act is being upheld.

303(d) Listings For Trash Impairment

One of the main requirements for states under the Clean Water Act is to submit a section 303(d) list to the United States Environmental Protection Agency every 2 years. This submission will help the EPA to determine bodies of water that are the least maintained or regulated, that house significant levels of pollutants.

Every 2 Years
states of U.S.

The EPA will essentially issue those lakes or rivers a list of required improvements — this list is called the ‘total maximum daily load for trash’.

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Trash

A TMDL is designed to help local governments or those responsible for EPA identified bodies of water to prioritize tasks that will improve the quality of the water system. It works almost like a checklist and a budget in one and is given to any source of water that does not meet the satisfactory response under a 303(d) listing for trash impairment.