PLASTRAT – Reduction of plastic discharges in lakes and running waters

Plastic remains are the smallest particles found almost everywhere in the world. On the other hand, however, scientific knowledge about the extent and consequences of plastic pollution, especially in our rivers and lakes, is still limited. The aim of PLASTRAT is to develop technical, economic and socio-ecological solution strategies to reduce the input of plastic into urban water bodies.

Research approach

Using selected product groups, ISOE's joint project investigates the use of plastic in everyday life and the perception of associated environmental risks. It will also examine how consumers evaluate products made of compostable plastic or recycled plastics. Using the example of hygiene articles, clothing and dog excrement bags, product-specific usage and disposal practices and the perception of the associated environmental impacts are investigated empirically. The knowledge gained in the project is to be brought together in a scientific evaluation system with which plastics can be assessed in terms of their environmental compatibility with flowing waters. Based on this,  suitable criteria for a quality label for product groups or plastics will be developed on the outcome of a deficit analysis of existing eco-labels with the participation of actors from the entire value chain. The stakeholder dialogue is one of the tools used for this purpose.

Background

It is impossible to imagine our everyday life without plastics. As helpful as the material is for all sorts of areas of life, plastic waste and debris appears everywhere in the environment. The entry of plastics into rivers and lakes, for example through the effluent of sewage treatment plants, raises questions about water quality and possible consequences for living organisms. However, both risk research and public debate focus primarily on the problem of plastics in the world's oceans. At present, little is known about the plastic contamination of limnic systems, i.e. freshwater-influenced ecosystems. Thus, there is neither an overview of the quantity and type of plastics brought in, nor are the exact entry paths sufficiently known. There are also gaps in knowledge about environmental behaviour, such as degradation/degradation behaviour of plastic residues in the aquatic environment. Possible effects on aquatic organisms, especially of smaller plastic fragments (“microplasty”), were also considered primarily for the marine sector. Therefore, both the environmental behaviour and possible environmental effects of different types of plastics are to be investigated in more detail in the research project.

Project partners

  • University of the Federal Armed Forces Munich (project management)
  • Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
  • Rhenish-Westphalian Institute for Water (IWW)
  • Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG)
  • TU Munich
  • TU Darmstadt
  • Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research Dresden e. V.
  • Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research (IOW)
  • aquadrat engineering GmbH
  • inge GmbH
  • The Sustainable People GmbH

Funding

The project “PLASTRAT – Strategies for the reduction of entries of urban plastic in limnic systems” is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Duration

2017/09 – 2020/08