NYK completes sample collection for large-scale survey of microplastics in oceans

An NYK bulk carrier (Photo: NYK)

Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) has collected 100 samples at 100 locations as part of a large-scale survey of microplastics over a wide range of the ocean.

The samples collected will then be analysed 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.

Microplastics are small particles less than five millimetres 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 their small size, they are difficult to collect, and the actual situation of contamination is still unclear.

NYK began the survey using three of its vessels in March 2020. The number has since expanded to enable coverage of 100 different locations across a broad area.

The analysed data will be integrated into the Worldwide Microplastic Map produced by the 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.

NYK believes that by continuing its activities and accumulating analysis data, the company will be able to identify the source of the discharge and conduct research related to its impact on the ecosystem.

A wide variety of microplastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, PET, and acrylic resins have been found in seawater collected from the ocean. By measuring the concentration of microplastics in the samples, a pollution-concentration distribution has been created.

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