Eunomia Research & Consulting was commissioned by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) to  conduct a study which reviewed the quantities and types of macro-plastics received by the water industry, identified the negative impacts of these items and made recommendations on how to improve source control to prevent them from entering wastewater systems.



This project contributes to the understanding of the types and quantities of plastic items (>6mm) commonly received at Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) inlets and those leaving Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).

Inappropriate flushing of items such as wet wipes, cause the majority of the 300,000+ blockages to the UK and Ireland water industries and up to £100 million in costs per year. Many of the items found contain plastic.

The research began with a literature search to find out the quantity and types of ‘plastics’ collected at WwTW inlets and leaving CSOs. It then identified how best to control these plastics through ‘source control’ measures, including policy interventions, behaviour change campaigns and voluntary industry actions.

The research will therefore allow the water industry to develop a strategy for targeting source control of plastic items. This will ultimately reduce operational costs and the amount of plastic entering the environment via our activities, and hence help to protect the circular economy and our bio-resources.

The report is available to view on the UKWIR website here: