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Land-Sourced Litter

Current information on the topic of plastics in the environment

Eine Information von


Newsletter September 2022

Dear Readers,

On the topic of plastics in the environment, the BKV has for several years adopted a systematic approach to help obtain fact-oriented information on the subject. The study entitled "From Land to Sea – Model for the documentation of land-sourced plastic litter" marked the beginning, and it has been constantly updated since then. Last year, it was further developed quite significantly in the "Plastics in the Environment" study. Several special reports on individual aspects of the discharge of plastic waste into the environment supplement the models. Most recently, the BKV and a number of plastics industry associations commissioned a "Special report on pellet losses". This report provides an overview for Germany for the first time of the points in the value chain at which pellet losses can occur and in what amounts. This special report, which we introduce in this newsletter, also offers an estimate as to how many pellets finally end up in the environment in Germany and remain there.

We also report on another overview study submitted by the Alfred-Wegener Institute. This study deals with plastic waste and its sources in the Arctic region, its distribution and its presumed effects on eco-systems. A further topic in our newsletter is a new procedure developed at the University of Michigan that is deployed for mapping the distribution of microplastics in the world's seas. The special aspect here is that the research team uses satellite data from NASA that were actually collected for a completely different purpose. We also talked about this to an expert who has already dealt with satellite technology for data acquisition. In our brief interview, Dr. Jörg Lefèvre from the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) explains the advantages and disadvantages of this technology and what he thinks about it.

You can read about this and plenty more in this current edition of our Marine Litter newsletter, which we hope will again arouse your interest.

Kind regards,

FCIO (Austrian Chemical Industry Association)
IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V. (German Plastics Packaging Industry Association)
PlasticsEurope Deutschland e.V.
VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery

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Plastics in the environment: A close look at pellet losses

For some years now, the plastics industry in Europe has been striving to avoid pellet losses by launching a number of different programs. With the "Special report on pellet losses", which is now available as a supplement to the "From Land to Sea" and "Plastics in the Environment" models, a comprehensive investigation on pellet losses along the entire value chain has now been compiled for the first time in Germany. Pellet losses can occur during the production, processing and recycling of plastics and also during transport. The special report compiled by Conversio on behalf of the BKV, also provides information on how many pellets are discharged into the terrestrial and aquatic environments via the respective potential discharge sources at these stages in the value chain.

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From research and science

Overview study from the AWI on plastic pollution in the Arctic

Although the Arctic has a very low population, it has, according to an international overview study from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), a similar amount of plastic pollution as other regions of the world. The study was published in the specialist magazine "Nature Reviews and Environment Research". According to the report, the research results show that plastic litter is discharged into the sea and to the Arctic for example via rivers, the air and shipping. Shipping in particular is an important discharge source. The waters of the Arctic, the sea floor, beaches, rivers and ice and snow are, according to the study, being increasingly polluted by microplastic.


Microplastic: Birch trees for soil remediation

According to an interdisciplinary pilot study headed by the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam (GFZ), birch trees could help to remediate soil contaminated with microplastic. In the journal "Science of the Total Environment", the research team reports that, during the growth phase, the trees filter microplastic from the water in their vicinity and can store it in their roots.

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Marine Litter als Lebensraum

Charting of microplastic with the help of NASA satellites

Scientists at the University of Michigan (USA) have developed, on the basis of data from a NASA satellite system, a new method for recording the global distribution of microplastics in the world's seas from outer space. From the satellite data of a NASA system close to the earth, they calculated the concentration and movements of plastic particles in the sea. According to the research team, the study also provides information on discharges of microplastic from rivers and also gives indications that the concentration of microplastic on the water’s surface changes with the seasons.

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"Satellite technology helps to describe the problem, but not to solve it"

Dr. Jörg Lefèvre is involved with the topic of environment-friendly and health-friendly processes and products within the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), works in the government commission of the State Government of Lower Saxony, and is a member of management boards and committees of various organisations. In these various functions, he also deals with the problems surrounding microplastic emissions and their avoidance, for example in the development and design of car tyres and textiles. In this connection, he has also become involved with the topic of data recording via satellite technology. Against this background, we asked him to appraise the process presented in this newsletter from the University of Michigan, with which movements and concentrations of plastics particles in the sea are calculated from satellite data.

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Lefèvre, Jörg

From politics and industry

Roundtable on Marine Litter formulates measures to combat microplastic

The "Roundtable on Marine Litter" goes back to an initiative by the German Federal Environment Ministry and the German Environment Agency from the year 2016. It was initiated in order to develop and coordinate national measures to combat marine litter and to support their implementation. In a recent briefing paper, the working group on microplastic within the Roundtable on Marine Litter called for a fast reduction in the discharge of microplastic into the North Sea and Baltic Sea and listed 28 measures for cutting down the amount of microplastic that gets into the seas.

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BASF invests in platform for recyclate from marine plastic

BASF Venture Capital GmbH (BVC), the corporate venture company of the BASF group, has announced a strategic investment in the US company Oceanworks for the development of sustainable solutions. Via its platform, Oceanworks offers not only PCR recyclate but also recyclate from marine litter, the origin of which is said to be traceable back to its origin through digital solutions. 

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Experts talk about plastic litter in the seas

What are the companies that put plastic packaging into circulation undertaking to resolve the related problems? Does the answer lie in recycling and closed-loop circulation? And how does one recover plastic waste from the seas? These and other questions will be discussed by the participants in the online talk on the platform "Ihre Chemie" with experts from the consumer goods trade, environmental protection and a technology start-up.

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Plastics litter

Cleaning of the seabed by robots

A robot system that is capable or learning, currently being developed by scientists at the Technical University of Munich together with eight European partner institutes as part of the "SeaClear Projects", should in future be able to independently track down, chart and collect plastic waste from the seabed. The first test of a prototype in the Mediterranean Sea off Dubrovnik had been successful, says the research team.

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