EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Riverine Macroplastics and How to Find Them

Tim van Emmerik1 and Anna Schwarz2
Tim van Emmerik and Anna Schwarz
  • 1Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands (
  • 2Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO)

Macroplastic (>0.5 cm) pollution in aquatic environments is an emerging environmental risk, as it negatively impacts ecosystems, endangers aquatic species, and causes economic damage. Rivers are known to play a crucial role in transporting land-based plastic waste into the world’s oceans. However, rivers and their ecosystems are also directly affected by plastic pollution. To better quantify global plastic pollution pathways and to effectively reduce sources and risks, a thorough understanding of riverine macroplastic sources, transport, fate and effects is crucial. In our presentation, we discuss the current scientific state on macroplastic in rivers and evaluate existing knowledge gaps. We discuss the origin and fate of riverine plastics, including processes and factors influencing macroplastic transport and its spatiotemporal variation. Moreover, we present an overview of monitoring and modeling efforts to characterize riverine plastic transport and give examples of typical values from around the world (van Emmerik & Schwarz, 2020). With our presentation, we aim to present a comprehensive overview of riverine macroplastic research to date and suggest multiple ways forward for future research.



van Emmerik, T, Schwarz, A. Plastic debris in rivers. WIREs Water. 2020; 7:e1398.

How to cite: van Emmerik, T. and Schwarz, A.: Riverine Macroplastics and How to Find Them, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11840,, 2020

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