Hong Kong at the Pearl River Estuary: A hotspot of microplastic pollution

Mar Pollut Bull. 2015 Oct 15;99(1-2):112-8. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.07.050. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


Large plastic (>5mm) and microplastic (0.315-5mm) debris were collected from 25 beaches along the Hong Kong coastline. More than 90% consisted of microplastics. Among the three groups of microplastic debris, expanded polystyrene (EPS) represented 92%, fragments represented 5%, and pellets represented 3%. The mean microplastic abundance for Hong Kong was 5595items/m(2). This number is higher than international averages, indicating that Hong Kong is a hotspot of marine plastic pollution. Microplastic abundance was significantly higher on the west coast than on the east coast, indicating that the Pearl River, which is west of Hong Kong, may be a potential source of plastic debris. The amounts of large plastic and microplastic debris of the same types (EPS and fragments) were positively correlated, suggesting that the fragmentation of large plastic material may increase the quantity of beach microplastic debris.

Keywords: Abundance; Beach survey; Hong Kong; Marine debris; Microplastics; Pearl River Estuary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Estuaries
  • Hong Kong
  • Plastics / analysis*
  • Polystyrenes / analysis
  • Rivers
  • Waste Products* / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Plastics
  • Polystyrenes
  • Waste Products
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical