Plastic bead media challenge – what’s next?

23 March 2022

A post by Will Wormald

Principle Planning Engineer

We launched this challenge in September 2021 looking for alternative approaches to facilitate replacing buoyant plastic bead media used at some of our water recycling centres. You can read more about the challenge here.

Sadly, we didn’t have any formal submissions, which highlights that this is an emerging area of focus. Exploring it using a Marketplace approach, which aims to reach broadly across the supply chain, has helped us to confirm that there is a lack of readily available solutions.

So, what’s next?

We’re now looking at building our understanding and supporting data by undertaking further sampling and analysis on media degradation, as well as considering further research avenues. These include a wider assessment of microplastic loss from water recycling processes, building on investigations undertaken as part of the UKWIR Chemical Investigation Programme.

We’re also considering the viability of an internal suggestion for re-use of the media. In the meantime, we’ll continue discussions with the supply chain to investigate more conventional treatment alternatives and explore options around the recycling of ‘spent’ media. If you have a suggestion that could help, we’d still love to hear from you.

We’ll update you in the future as we explore these different options.