Plastic production and consumption has increased constantly over the past 70 years. A large share of that plastic ends up in the environment, whether intentionally or unintentionally. In the past, research on plastic pollution largely focused on the marine environment, overlooking the freshwater and terrestrial environment. To date it is unknown which share of plastic remains in the freshwater environment, especially rivers. Most likely more plastic accumulates in river systems than previously thought. The aim of this project is to identify factors that influence accumulation zones of plastics in river systems. Firstly, by studying plastic accumulation on riverbanks along the Dutch part of the Meuse. Investigating if and which characteristics of the monitored riverbanks have an influence on the amount and characteristics of the accumulated plastics. Secondly, by assessing additional datasets on river litter and analysing if and how the results from the Meuse can be transferred. Based on the results, utilizing GIS data and remote sensing imagery data to create risk maps for plastic litter accumulation for individual river systems. Finally validating risk maps with field work.
We provide a disciplinary and multidisciplinary research programme aimed at advanced understanding of environmental problems and advanced training of PhD candidates in this field.