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Header image Ecologic

The Plastic Pirates – Investigating Waste Pollution in and at German Rivers with Young People

The Plastic Pirates – Investigating Waste Pollution in and at German Rivers with Young People

TimeLoc
28 May 2019
Berlin
Germany
Plastic waste and cigarette butts can be found along almost all German rivers – left behind by people who use the river banks as recreational areas.

At the dialogue event "The River, the Waste and Me" by the Berlin initiative "Alles im Fluss" in cooperation with "Stadtgespräch Wasser bewegt Berlin" on water pollution control and waste on the banks, Linda Mederake, scientific researcher at Ecologic Institute, presented the project Plastic Pirates. In this citizen science project for children and teenagers, school classes and youth groups throughout Germany can collect data on the amount of plastic waste on and in German rivers and thereby become scientists themselves.

Results so far show that on almost every river bank (> 90%) waste has been found and thus German rivers also contribute to marine plastic pollution. The main polluters of larger quantities of waste on river banks are river visitors, while the findings of microplastics (plastic particles < 5 mm) also point to the plastics processing industry as a polluter.

Further speakers at the dialogue event were Prof. Dr. Matthias Barjenbruch, TU Berlin, with an inventory of plastics in the environment focusing on water bodies, and Claus Vetter Claus Vetter from the German newspaper Tagesspiegel, who reported on his  attempt to live plastic-free for several weeks. Subsequently, the following questions were discussed in small groups:

  • How can I influence others and anchor the issue in politics and society in such a way that actions are taken?
  • What influence do I have on production, distribution and trade?
  • Which influence do I have as a consumer?