Synthetic polymers have become an indispensable part of our daily life. Besides the indisputable benefits of plastic materials, major concerns arise about plastic leakage to the environment. Small plastic particles, so-called microplastics, have been detected ubiquitously in various ecosystems around the globe where they are bioavailable for a broad range of organisms and may negatively affect ecosystems and consequently, society and the economy.
While there is political motivation to solve the microplastics issue, most activities focus on the marine environments. However, emerging research demonstrates that freshwater ecosystems are highly affected by microplastics pollution and are a major microplastics pathway to the oceans.
The LimnoPlast project addresses this issue by devoting its research and training program to microplastics in Europe’s freshwater ecosystems. LimnoPlast challenges traditional barriers between disciplines and sectors and combines environmental, technical and social sciences in order to tackle the microplastics problem from its sources to potential solutions, in a holistic approach.
- To train a new type of scientist, able to tackle the complex plastics issue holistically and contribute to Europe’s innovation and Circular Economy capacity. Working at the interface of three usually very distant disciplines, they will promote a step change in how we deal with this and future environmental challenges.
- Provide the first comprehensive assessment of the sources and impacts of freshwater microplastics based on the analysis of three major urban areas as hot spots of plastic pollution.
- Innovate technological solutions to the plastics issue, including novel processes to remove microplastics from municipal and industrial wastewater as well as bio-degradable, environmentally sound polymers.
- Promote societal change by understanding the economic, legislative and social context of freshwater microplastics.
- Transform science into a set of specific solutions, including the prioritisation of actions based on the sources and impacts of microplastics, development of better processes and polymers, risk communication strategies and societal interventions and effective policy and legislative interventions.
- Transfer the LimnoPlast outcomes to European decision makers, stakeholders and the public to enable and promote action on freshwater microplastics using an innovative communication and dissemination strategy.
You can find further information on who is involved in LimnoPlast and what research will be undertaken on the LimnoPlast website.