Ad Nut
Jun 12, 2019

Here's what you might eat in plastic every week

Grey Malaysia helps WWF visualise the amount of microplastics people regularly eat.

Sometimes you roll the dice when eating at a restaurant. Eating the dice, however, one would think would be much worse. Yet that's exactly the point driven home in a new global campaign from Grey Malaysia for WWF (World Wildlife Fund).  

Based on a new WWF study commissioned to the University of Newcastle, Australia, people ingest roughly 2,000 pieces of microplastic each week through air, in food, but mostly in water. That's the equivalent of 5 grams a day, 21 grams a week or more than 250 grams per year. 

The Grey campaign smartly visualises the data, showing what those amounts represent in everyday plastic household objects. We learn we eat the plastic equivalent of a credit card a week, a comb every three weeks and a clothes hanger each month. The campaign's integrated website, was not functioning at the time of this review but purports to let people take a test based on his or her individual diet and approximate how much plastic is consumed weekly.

While Ad Nut's love of healthy forests is well known, Ad Nut is not a certified ecologist and therefore cannot vouch either way for the science behind this. We do learn that the study combines data from over 50 other studies on human ingestion of microplastics and that the lead researcher, Dr Thava Palanisami, whose research team works exclusively on microplastics, says "this study has helped to provide an accurate calculation of ingestion rates for the first time”.

The one expert reaction to the study posted online at Science Media Centre from ecology professor Alastair Grant at the University of East Anglia (UEA) argues consuming 1769 particles of plastic every week just from water as stated in the study "would require an individual to drink 4 litres a day of the single most contaminated water sample out of the 159 in the study being quoted". 

Grant argues the report does not present evidence that consuming even the highest figure (approximately 250 particles a day) presents a risk to human health and suggests burning plastic in developing countries is likely to have much more ill health effects than from small bits of plastic particles in food and water. Other media reports on the study noted limitations to the evidence and the need for further research.

The campaign release does note that ingestion is just one aspect of a much wider plastics crisis. And WWF can use these clever visualisations to raise awareness of this where the campaign runs in Singapore, Australia, Japan, Columbia, Mexico, Germany and UK to encourage the public to sign a global petition calling for a legally binding treaty on marine plastics pollution.

Ad Nut IS a self-certified ad critic and would suggest this campaign, which includes TV, digital, online and outdoor, effectively (minus the website issue) makes its point. 


Grey Team
Graham Drew, Executive Creative Director
Andrew Fong, Creative Director
Heng Thang Wei, Creative Director
Selva Ganapathy, Copywriter
Kevin Wong, Art Director
Ralve Khor, Art Director
Suzy Chiang, Producer
Jo Yau, General Manager
Marcus SK, Brand Director
Vivian Khoo, Account Executive
Huma Qureshi, Regional Director PR & Corp Comms AMEA

Production Team
MFX Sdn. Bhd.
Post Production
Glass Fin (KL)
Sound Production
Maverick AV Sdn. Bhd.

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