River Litter, serious business

Lessons learned in 2012:

During 2012 we have done our first trawls with the set-up we have developed for measuring the amount of litter that is transported by the Meuse. At the time of the sampling, the conditions of the river were very calm and we did not expect to find very high numbers of items. But it turned out that the results were already very significant. After drying, counting and categorizing the caught items, the conclusion was that the amount of litter in the river was big enough to take the problem of river litter very serious.
We did find a substantial amount of macroplastics and we believe the method we developed is capable of delivering valuable data for assessing the contribution of rivers to the problem of plastic litter in the seas.

Until now, beach sampling was the only method available to assess the volume of litter in a river. Our data shows that a substantial part of litter, mainly the flexible fraction, remains in suspension and will not be found on an river bank, unless it is caught in the vegetation. The real amount of flexibles will probably be much higher than presented here in the slides. It takes some more hydrological analyses to determine the dispersion of these parts in the whole water column, here we have only used the number of flexibles that were present in the upper 70 cm.

It also turned out that a major part of the items are smaller than 25 mm. That does not include them in the category of microplastics (< 5 mm), but they could be small enough to be missed in sampling on a beach.

The presentation below describes the results of the initial trawls and a way of thinking  to approach the problem of river litter, recovery and appropriate legislation as a whole.River Litter Serious Business Dia1River Litter Serious Business Dia2River Litter Serious Business Dia3River Litter Serious Business Dia4River Litter Serious Business Dia5River Litter Serious Business Dia6River Litter Serious Business Dia7River Litter Serious Business Dia8River Litter Serious Business Dia9River Litter Serious Business Dia10River Litter Serious Business Dia11River Litter Serious Business Dia12River Litter Serious Business Dia13River Litter Serious Business Dia14River Litter Serious Business Dia15River Litter Serious Business Dia16River Litter Serious Business Dia17River Litter Serious Business Dia18River Litter Serious Business Dia19River Litter Serious Business Dia20River Litter Serious Business Dia21River Litter Serious Business Dia22River Litter Serious Business Dia23River Litter Serious Business Dia24River Litter Serious Business Dia25River Litter Serious Business Dia26River Litter Serious Business Dia27River Litter Serious Business Dia28River Litter Serious Business Dia29River Litter Serious Business Dia30River Litter Serious Business Dia31River Litter Serious Business Dia32River Litter Serious Business Dia33River Litter Serious Business Dia34River Litter Serious Business Dia35

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4 thoughts on “River Litter, serious business

  1. Hi Gijsbert,

    I’m Francois, a volunteer at Surfrider Foundation ( Cote Basque Chapter: http://surfrider64.com ). I’ve just published a short notice about your project on our website: http://surfrider64.com/2013/03/12/d-ou-vient-le-plastique-echoue-sur-les-plages

    Your experience is really interesting. Is that possible to have a file with the presentation you have done in the last post.

    Moreover, I’ve got a question. Have you seen these pieces of plastic in the Meuse?
    http://surfrider64.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/a4-2013-eng_invasion_of_biocarriers.pdf

    Thanks for your rersponse.

    Best,

    Francois
    francois.verdet@surfrider64.com

    • Hi Francois,

      These pieces we have also found in the Meuse! And they are not the only plastics coming from the waste water treatment plants!

      Thanks for your comment and I’ll send you the presentation by separate e-mail.

      regards,
      Gijsbert

      • Thanks Gijsbert for your response. We need to talk about it. Can you please send me your email. Do you speak french?

        Francois

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