Survey of Microplastics in Oceans: NYK achieves 100 Samples at 100 locations

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(Image Courtesy: NYK Line)

NYK has achieved 100 samples at 100 locations in survey of microplastics collections over a wide range of the ocean which the company has been conducting since 2020. The samples collected will be analyzed in the laboratory of the Chiba Institute of Technology (CIT) to help study the composition and concentration of microplastics floating in oceans around the world.

Background

On March 2020, NYK signed a memorandum of understanding with the CIT to use a ship to collect and analyze microplastics in oceans around the world in an effort to create a solution to marine plastic pollution, a global environmental issue.
Microplastics are small particles less than 5 millimeters in diameter that are formed from plastic debris discharged into the ocean due to the effects of UV radiation and waves, and are feared to affect not only ocean pollution but also the ecosystem. In addition, due to its small size, it is difficult to collect, and the actual situation of contamination is still unclear.

Sampling analysis and Creating Worldwide Microplastic Map

“Since we started sampling from three vessels in March 2020, we have steadily expanded the number of vessels and achieved our goal of 100 samples at 100 locations, which we set together with Associate Professor Kameda of CIT throughout the year. The analyzed data will be integrated into the “Worldwide Microplastic Map” produced by CIT, and the sampling date and time, location information, meteorological and oceanographic data, etc. will be linked to the analysis results to create a platform that can be widely used by companies and researchers. We believe that by continuing our activities and accumulating analysis data, we will be able to identify the source of the discharge and conduct research related to its impact on the ecosystem,” NYK stated.

Analysis results: Courtesy of Chiba Institute of Technology

1) A wide variety of microplastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, PET, and acrylic resins have been found in seawater collected from the ocean.

2) By measuring the concentration of microplastics in the samples, a pollution-concentration distribution has been created.

(Image Courtesy: Chiba Institute of Technology website(Japanese) https://www.casio.kamedalab.com/ (Japanese))
(Image Courtesy: Chiba Institute of Technology website(Japanese) https://www.casio.kamedalab.com/ (Japanese))

Future Outlook

On February 3, 2021, NYK announced the NYK Group ESG Story, which aims to further integrate ESG into the company’s management strategy. We believe that tackling marine plastic pollution is an issue that we should tackle as a way of return to oceans. In the future, we plan to increase the number of survey targets, locations, and items.

In order to continue to be a corporate group that remains essential to society and industry, the NYK Group aims to be a sustainable solution provider that creates new value while maximizing profits and achieving social and environmental sustainability from a long-term perspective.

Sea News Feature, April 6

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra

Associate Editor, Sea News