Microplastics in het milieu: een bedreiging voor de volksgezondheid? 

Onzichtbaar kleine plastic deeltjes vervuilen zeeën en rivieren. Ze hopen zich op in mosselen en ander seafood, en komen zo ook in het maagdarmkanaal van mensen terecht. Ook komen ze voor in de lucht en kunnen we ze inademen. Hoe ongezond dat is, weet op dit moment niemand. De Nederlandse Gezondheidsraad vindt dat voorzorgsmaatregelen nodig zijn, evenals onderzoek naar de blootstelling aan plastic deeltjes via de voeding en andere routes en naar hun schadelijkheid voor de gezondheid. Lees verder

“Tegen 2050 meer plastic dan vis in oceaan”

Er wordt zoveel plastic gebruikt dat in 2050 er zich meer plastic afval in de oceanen zal bevinden dan vis. Daarvoor waarschuwt het World Economic Forum van Davos.”Het huidige productiesysteem, gebruik, en wegwerpen van plastic heeft belangrijke negatieve gevolgen. Zo gaat jaarlijks 80 tot 120 miljard dollar plastic verpakking verloren. En behalve de financiële kost zullen de oceanen, bij ongewijzigde situatie, meer plastic bevatten dan vis tegen 2050″, klinkt het in een persmededeling.Lees verder

Ecover maakt afwasmiddelfles uit afval Kleine Nete

Ecover, de specialist in ecologische reinigingsmiddelen uit Malle, liet zijn personeel plastic flessen en rotzooi uit de Kleine Nete vissen tijdens een kanotocht. Dat afval wordt nu verwerkt tot een afwasmiddelfles met een geweten.In het kader van zijn jaarlijkse Care Day organiseerde Ecover voor haar medewerkers een kanotocht op de Kleine Nete van Herentals tot de watermolen in Grobbendonk. Een leuke teambuildingsactiviteit, maar het personeel moest onderweg vooral plastic en ander afval uit de waterloop vissen.

Lees verder

Biologisch afbreekbaar plastic is schijnoplossing voor vervuiling oceanen

Afbreekbare plastic flesjes en boodschappentasjes zijn geen oplossing voor de problematische hoeveelheid afval in de oceanen, waarschuwen milieuwetenschappers van de VN. Het meeste plastic is bijzonder duurzaam en daardoor worden stukken plastic en microplastics via zeestromen verspreid over de oceanen tussen de Noordpool en Antarctica. Dat staat in een VN-rapport dat vandaag gepubliceerd werd.Lees verder


Zero Plastic Rivers has started as a civilian initiative rooted in the awareness that the worldwide plastic pollution is a huge and severe ecological threat that needs to be solved as fast as possible. We focus as a team on one single goal: to drastically reduce riverine plastic pollution.

For this purpose, Zero Plastic Rivers works to define, elaborate and implement an encompassing and science-based program to develop and apply relevant knowledge and know-how to connect people and organizations from all parts of society to cooperate and even to start new initiatives where appropriate.

Since this requires a multi-disciplinary approach, Zero Plastic Rivers cooperates with different partners from a variety of professional domains and scientific disciplines. In this context, Zero Plastic Rivers aims to create partnerships with all parties and people that want to contribute to reduce riverine plastic pollution and in which every party decides what its wants to do and how it wants to cooperate.

In first instance, we focus at the river Scheldt as pilot and one type of plastic riverine pollution, i.e. macro plastics. We intend to extend our research to other rivers and other types of plastic pollution as soon as possible.

Not only is it necessary to conduct research related to riverine plastic pollution and how to solve it, we also need to put the knowledge and solutions in practice. As a global society, we have to prevent as much as possible plastic waste to end up in rivers. This will require considerable behavioral change from all of us. And to remove any plastic pollution that is present in rivers, we need to develop and implement technical solutions to collect and remove it.

For these reasons, we want to unite people, civilians, governments, governmental and non-governmental organizations, schools, academia, business and industry in our efforts to realize this difficult goal. Literally anybody can help and we are open to discuss any form of cooperation. As a partner, you can structurally help by supporting Zero Plastic Rivers and/or by helping to realize a part of our program.


For that reason, we unite civilians, governments, schools, universities, governmental & non-governmental organizations, business and industry to fight for Zero Plastic Rivers


Clean up any plastic litter as early as possible

Do not delay until tomorrow what you can do today. This is especially true when it comes to keeping plastic waste out of our environment. The most difficult and hence the worst place to remove plastic waste from the environment is the plastic soup. After all, its area is gigantic and spreads across the oceans, outside of territorial waters. That is why no single specific country feels responsible to clean it. And even if such would be the case, this requires the effort of far more than one country, taking into account the size and complexity of the problem. For that reason, we should remove any plastic waste out of the environment as soon as possible, and at the latest before its enters the sea via a riverine estuary.

For this purpose we cooperate with specialists and focus on specific cleaning actions. To remove plastic pollution from a river before it enters the sea via its estuary, technology and engineering will need to lend us a helping hand.

Despite all the research already done and the installations already designed and built, additional research is still necessary to create a system that is capable to effectively and efficiently catch and remove plastic pollution from a big river such as the Scheldt or Rhine before it reaches the open sea.


Prevention is better than cure

It is always better to prevent than to cure, and that certainly is the case concerning riverine plastic pollution. It might be difficult to imagine, but an important part of all plastic waste that is littering our streets, fields, forests, roads and riverbanks finally ends up in the Plastic Soup. This happens via waterways, starting with the sewage system and brooks which lead to canals and smaller waterways which in their turn again lead to bigger rivers that transport all this plastic waste to open sea and to the Plastic Soup.

To prevent this, we shall all have to cooperate. In essence, it is quite easy: make sure not to cause any plastic litter. Plastic litter belongs in the garbage bin.  And if you do notice any plastic litter in our environment, take it up and remove it as fast as possible. Do not let it continue its journey to the Plastic Soup.

To this end, Zero Plastic Rivers wants to inform and sensitize people and incentivize them to actively prevent plastic littering.

An action map to structure cooperation

Since literally everybody can help in this matter, Zero Plastic Rivers appeals to everybody to help: companies, governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, civilians, schools, … .

We do this in cooperation with “De Mooimakers” (The Cleaners), a governmental initiative that wants to motivate and help volunteers to take actions against riverine plastic pollution in a structured and organized way.

The Action Map of “De Mooimakers” allows you to claim voluntarily take responsibility to keep a part of Belgium litter-free. This is possible via this link: actiekaart.

If you choose to remove plastic litter in the neighborhood of rivers, canals, brooks and other waterways, you will actively help to realize Zero Plastic Rivers and to slow down the growth of the Plastic Soup.

But you can also help in different ways, e.g. by informing your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors about the problem of plastic pollution and by asking them to help preventing the littering of plastic.

Zero Plastic Rivers is keen to hear about your initiatives and will support you if possible.


Measurement of riverine plastic pollution: the current state of affairs

To measure is to know. In the case of plastic pollution, this is easier said than done. To date, a number of studies have been done to measure and quantify the plastic pollution of rivers, seas and oceans. However, the best results until now are estimates and approximate numbers based on incomplete and/or inconsistent datasets and with and unknown measurement error.

And this is the case for both marine and riverine plastic pollution.

To measure is to know, but for that purpose measurements need to be accurate.

Nonetheless, accurate measurements are an essential aspect of any action plan to combat marine plastic pollution. And this is even more the case for riverine plastic pollution: since this phenomenon is less known, reliable measurements are absolutely necessary to design and drive the management of rivers and waterways with regard to plastic pollution.

Our first goal: reliable measurements

To generate accurate and reliable measurements related to riverine plastic pollution, Zero Plastic Rivers cooperates in the definition and elaboration of a validated measurement method based on sampling and statistical extrapolation. Although this traditional and proven measurement method is labor intensive and requires a long measurement cycle, it does provide measurement results which are as reliable as possible.

For this purpose, it is necessary to define specific measurement protocols, to identify appropriate sampling points, to get a representative sample size and to process the resulting samples in such way (cleaning, sorting, categorizing, weighing, …) that they can be used to build statistical models that are as accurate as possible.

This method is ideal to assess the plastic pollution of a pilot river. In this context, the river Scheldt is the ideal candidate.

Our second goal: automated measurement systems

Although measurements based on samples and statistical methods can provide reliable results, they require a lot of work and time. To make the measurement  of riverine plastic pollution as efficient as possible,  Zero Plastic Rivers aims to use automated measurement systems based on sensor- and information technology. Such systems must be both effective and efficient, providing accurate and reliable measurements within a short timeframe and requiring a less labor as possible. Additionally, such systems need to be usable in any imaginable river or waterway. To design, create and build such systems, cooperation between research institutions and companies specialized in technology and marine engineering will be required.


Local solutions to a global problem

Up to now, our society has handled the problem of plastic waste in a very irresponsible way. And this currently still is the case. We are the cause of the enormous amounts of plastic that are heavily polluting our rivers, seas and oceans. And if we do not remover the plastic in our rivers before it reaches the estuaries, it will invariably end up in the plastic soup, which will continue to grow.

The fundamental problem is the way how we, as a global human society, handle plastic.

Research-based estimates indicate that approx. 80% of the plastic waste in the plastic soup originates from land-based sources. The figure on the left gives a view on the lifecycle of plastic packaging material and shows that approx. 30% of the plastic leaks from the cycle into our environment. Although it may take many years, this plastic waste will end up in the plastic soup where it can start its devastating work. For hundreds or even thousands of years. So, if we want to stop the plastic soup from growing, we have to stop the supply of plastic waste to our seas and oceans stops. We can achieve this to a really great extent by keeping our rivers and waterways free from plastic as much as possible and by removing any plastic from it before it reaches the estuaries.

We want to transform the current “plastic rivers” into “zero plastic rivers”.


Up to 80% of the plastic soup is transported into our oceans via rivers