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

Rapid assessment of floating macroplastic transport in the Rhine

Paul Vriend1, Tim van Emmerik2, Caroline van Calcar4, Merel Kooi3, Harm Landman5, and Remco Pikaar5
Paul Vriend et al.
  • 1Wageningen University & Research, Water Systems & Global Change Group, Wageningen, Netherlands (
  • 2Wageningen University & Research, Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen, Netherlands
  • 3Wageningen University & Research, Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Wageningen, Netherlands
  • 4Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
  • 5Tauw, Capelle aan den IJssel, The Netherlands

Most marine litter pollution is assumed to originate from land-based sources, entering the marine environment through rivers. To better understand and quantify the risk that plastic pollution poses on aquatic ecosystems, and to develop effective prevention and mitigation methods, a better understanding of riverine plastic transport is needed. To achieve this, quantification of riverine plastic transport is crucial. Here, we demonstrate how established methods can be combined to provide a rapid and cost-effective characterization and quantification of floating macroplastic transport in the River Rhine We combine visual observations with passive sampling to arrive at a first-order estimate of macroplastic transport, both in number (10 - 75 items per hour) and mass per unit of time (1.3 – 9.7 kg per day). Additionally, our assessment gives insight in the most abundant macroplastic polymer types the downstream reach of the River Rhine. Furthermore, we explore the spatial and temporal variation of plastic transport within the river, and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of current sampling methods. Finally, we present an outlook for future monitoring of major rivers, including several suggestions on how to expand the rapid assessment presented in this paper.

How to cite: Vriend, P., van Emmerik, T., van Calcar, C., Kooi, M., Landman, H., and Pikaar, R.: Rapid assessment of floating macroplastic transport in the Rhine, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-698,, 2019

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