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Worldwide there is increasing public and regulatory concern about the impact of microplastics on our environment, food, and health. International research demonstrates microplastics are pervasive in the environment. This problem has been likened to climate change due to its global scale and the magnitude of potential risks it poses to ecosystem health and resilience, human health, and the economy.

Aotearoa Impacts and Mitigation of Microplastics (AIM²) is a MBIE Endeavour-funded research programme (number C03X1802) examining the impacts of microplastics in Aotearoa-New Zealand. This program will develop a nationwide overview of contemporary microplastic pollution in New Zealand and assess the risk microplastics present to our environment, economy and wellbeing.

AIM² brings together 17 scientists from six institutions across NZ with expertise in marine and freshwater biology and ecology, environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, microbiology, molecular biology marine modelling, marine biosecurity, polymer chemistry, microscopy and social science.

What are microplastics?  

Microplastics are pieces of plastic less than 5mm in size. They are either made for purpose (primary microplastics) such as those used in industrial processes, personal and domestic care products, glitter or the preproduction pellets (nurdles) that is how plastics is transported around the world. Microplastics can be the breakdown products (secondary microplastics) of large plastic items, from food packaging to car lights. There is estimated to be >15 trillion pieces of microplastic debris in the world’s oceans, 80% of which originate from land-based activities.

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