Microplastic in the Ocean: Belgian Coast Mussels and Lugworm Study


As part of its commitment to tackling marine litter, PlasticsEurope and EUPC have sponsored the University of Ghent to carry out research into the presence and distribution of microplastic in living marine organisms on the Belgian coast, with a focus on mussels and lugworms.  The results of the microplastic study are expected to be published soon.


  • The plastics industry has contributed to this study as part of our strong commitment to tackling marine litter.
  • This is a top priority for our industry.  While the causes of marine litter are many and complex and cannot be solved by one stakeholder group alone, as an industry we are determined to drive multi-stakeholder action on the issue both in Europe and at international level. Whatever its origin, plastic waste in any environment is not acceptable, and the industry is keen to shape solutions in partnership to the problem.
  • Marine litter is a very complex issue. We believe that is crucial to understand the full scope of the problem in order to find solutions to all related aspects.

Scope of the study

The reason we chose mussels and lugworms for this study is that they are important indicators of the presence of micro-particles (including plastics) in the marine environment as both are filter feeders – meaning that they feed by filtering suspended matter and particles from water. In other words, worst case scenario.

The objective was to develop and test a new methodology to detect the presence of micro-organisms in these organisms. The study involved both lab work and field experiments on the Belgian coast.