UAntwerp researchers counting on citizens’ help to map plastic pollution.
Unfortunately, plastic waste is a common sight on the Scheldt and its banks. But now you might see more and more neon yellow items popping up. Researchers from UAntwerp deliberately set this material afloat on the river to find out how plastic moves and how long it takes to reach the North Sea. And this is where citizens come in.
The Ecosystem Management Research Group (ECOBE) at UAntwerp has been conducting research into plastic pollution in the Scheldt for quite some time now. Many plastic samples have been collected by means of fykes or large nets deployed from fishing boats. Clean-up actions are also organised along the riverbanks. The data collected has provided crucial insights, but many questions remain unanswered. That is why biologist Bert Teunkens launched an additional research project.
"We want to map how plastic items behave in and on a river," Teunkens explains. "Our goal is to find out how long it takes for plastic to reach the North Sea from the Scheldt. The project should also provide us with additional insights into the interaction between the river and its banks, with some items being washed ashore and others washed back into the river."