Plastic soup is prepared on land!

Rigid Plastics

While writing this blog I am watching the Giro d’Italia. While everything goes forward, every couple of seconds things go sideways: bidons. Below you see a picture of Tom Boonen getting rid of his drinking bottle (ok, not in the Giro….)

It makes sense that these guys do this with their bottles while racing, but recreational bikers do the same. What happens with these bottles? Here you see one that I found while letting my dog out.

crushed bidon

crushed bidon

A couple of cars must have been driving over it. Where is the cap? Ah, there is one in Meers,

bottle cap

bottle cap

Where is the rest of this bottle? My guess is that it is crushed in tiny fragments and washed away with the rain.

Here we may find a fragment of it…

Cleanup Meuse near Borgharen
Cleanup Meuse near Borgharen

But I think it is more realistic to look for its fragments right here!

micrplastics on river bank Borgharen
microplastics on river bank Borgharen

You can picture the way these pieces have travelled:

Thrown away on a curbside or road, get crushed by cars, separating bottle from cap. Fragmented to a size that makes it easy for transportation by rain. Transported further by sewer systems, passing through purification plants, get transported by smaller creeks towards the Meuse. Get deposited for a while on the bank, but transported further after a high water period until flowing into the sea. Adding some more grammes to the plastic soup.

Flexibles

I follow a plastic bag already for a couple of months. This is how he looked while I first met him on January 1st 2012, being entangled in barbed wire.

plastic bag 1 jan 2012

plastic bag 1 jan 2012

A couple of months later this is how he looked:

plastic bag 12 may 2012

plastic bag 12 may 2012

Slowly disintegrating and showing the characteristic wrinkling of a weathered plastic film:

plastic bag wrinkled

plastic bag wrinkled

And where are the blown off pieces? Maybe here…

plastic nest

plastic nest

There is a general idea that plastics in the oceans get ever smaller through the impact of UV-light and wave-action. But I think the fragmentation is already far on it’s way when litter is still in a river.

So whenever we want to stop plastics flowing into the seas, we better be aware that we have to stop these little particles being transported. But that we can solve on land and we do not have to fish them out of the sea!

Maybe that is some good news

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