Whats Involved?

We have designed the methodology for The Big Microplastic Survey to make it as easy as possible for you to be involved.  Most of the items that you need to undertake a scientific microplastic survey you can find around the household, or are available at a minimal cost.

Find Out Whats Involved

Once you have registered we will send you our resource pack that will provide you with details about how to conduct your survey, analyse and record what you find and submit the results.  As funds become available we will be digitising the process to make it even easier for you.

I’m in, what now?

If you want to participate in The Big Microplastic Survey research project the process is relatively simple.  All you have to do is follow the six steps below.

Step 1 – Register

The first step is to register.  This lets us know who you are and that you have agreed to the terms and conditions of this project.  Once you have registered we will send you a link to the resource pack.


Step 2 – Download the resource pack and watch supporting videos

Once you have registered we will send you a link to the resource pack that contains all the information you will need to conduct your survey and analysis.  This includes details on the procedures and the survey forms you need to complete and send to us.  There are also a number of supporting videos on the ‘Supporting Videos’ page which you should watch.  If you are not sure about anything please contact us before you press ahead with your survey.

Supporting Videos

Step 3 – Plan your survey

Decide on when and where you are going to conduct your survey.  It might sound obvious, but we always recommend that you do the survey on an outgoing tide because it is safer and you will have more beach to survey.

You might want to get some volunteers to help you.  The survey can be done by one person, but it is more fun and you can collect more data if there are more of you.

We will want to know where you are going to do your microplastic survey which you can do using Google Maps.  There is an explanation on how to do this in the resource pack.

Heading to the survey site

Step 4 – Undertake your survey

Enjoy the survey!  We have found that they are a great opportunity to meet other people and find out things about the microplastic issue.  You will see small things that you probably walked by in the past.  One ‘sample’ for us is actually 5 small samples taken in 5 locations near to us.  This gives us a representative sample size of the area.  Feel free to survey more than one location.

undertaking a survey

Step 5 – Analyse your samples

Now you have had some fun collecting your samples it’s time to find out what you have got.  This involved sorting out any vegetation and comparing what you have got against our microplastic guide which is in the resource pack recording the results as you go along.  In the future as funds allow, we are hoping to digitise the process to make it even easier.

Step 6 – Send us your results

You can complete the report form and send it to us.  If you can we would also like a photograph of your sample which we can analyse with special software.

For those of you in a position to do so, we would also like you to send us your sample in in an envelope.  Using specialised equipment at the university we can then do further analysis to find out things such as what types of plastic your sample contains and whether the plastic in your sample has adsorbed any toxins.  Unfortunately we are not able to reimburse the cost of postage at this stage.

microplastic analysis