PLA-NET – a platform about plastics in freshwater and coastal environments to boost information exchange between various global regions

Plastic waste has become a global threat to the aquatic environment. Since the 1950s, plastic production has increased exponentially from 1.7 Mt (million metric tons) to 335 Mt in 2016 (PlasticsEurope 2017). Inappropriate disposal, so-called littering of plastics, leads to an increasing presence in the natural environment.

The major goals of PLA-NET are:
Especially in the last years, a lot of new research projects about plastics started worldwide. For merging the current knowledge and allocating information about projects on plastics in freshwater and coastal areas worldwide, the German Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG) and the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (ICWRGC) created this homepage on plastics in freshwater environments and coastal areas in July 2018.

The homepage should act as an international information platform on freshwater and coastal environments. The platform informs about participant institutes, upcoming activities (e.g. conferences or workshops) and scientific publications on plastics in aquatic environments. Moreover, it should enhance collaboration opportunities in the future.

For more information see Participating Institutes

Everybody is invited to join this network, to present projects, share insights into the current (country-specific) situation. Interested persons are welcome to contact us (pla-net@bafg.de).

Federal Institute of Hydrology, Koblenz, Germany
The German Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG) is a supreme federal agency within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). It is responsible for the German waterways in federal ownership and advises federal ministries, e.g. the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and the Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV). Within the Federal Institute of Hydrology, the department G3 “Ecotoxicology and Biochemistry” is dealing with (micro)plastics in German waterways since 2015. Our main focus is the quantitative and qualitative inventory of (micro)plastics in water, sediment and biota in German waterways. Moreover, we developed methods for sampling and sample preparation and deal with ecotoxicological effects on aquatic organisms. www.bafg.de

International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (ICWRGC)
The International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (ICWRGC) was founded by the German Federal Government under the auspices of UNESCO as a Category 2 Centre and is located at the Federal Institute of Hydrology in Koblenz (Germany).

This Water Centre supports the implementation of the “International Hydrological Programme” (IHP) of UNESCO and the “Hydrology and Water Resources Programme” (HWRP) of WMO. The IHP/HWRP Secretariat is part of the Centre. www.waterandchange.org

Latest Activities

15 PhD positions (f/m/d) in the EU Horizon 2020 Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Project: MSCA-ITN-ETN LimnoPlast

“LimnoPlast – Microplastics in Europe’s freshwater ecosystems: From sources to solutions” is funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network) and offers 15 fully funded PhD positions (for early-stage researcher (ESR)) with attractive complementary training activities and generous travel, laboratory and research budgets. The successful candidates will …

Call for Proposals

JPI Oceans Sources, distribution & impact of microplastics in the marine environmentFurther Information: https://epss-jpi-oceans.ptj.de/call2018

Nano and microplastics in technical and freshwater systems

The Microplastics2018 Organizing Committee welcomes you to attend the conference “Nano and microplastics in technical and freshwaters systems – Microplastics2018” that will be held from October 28 to 31, 2018 at the Conference Centre Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland, the venue of choice for Congressi Stefano Franscini, the international conference platform of ETH Zurich. Microplastics in …

Microplastics in freshwater environments UNESCO International Hydrological Programme/Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency

Microplastics in freshwater environments represent a growing concern. The presence of microplastics in freshwater have been reported in different parts of the world – even in remote areas. Yet, scientific knowledge on microplastics in freshwater is limited. The event presents the state of knowledge, research and policies on microplastics in freshwater. Results of the UNESCO-IHP …

MICRO 2018

Fate and Impact of Microplastics: Knowledge, Actions and Solutions Building upon the stimulating work shared during MICRO 2016. Fate and Impact of Microplastics in Marine Ecosystems: From the Coastline to the Open Sea, we are delighted to invite the scientific community and stakeholders to participate in: MICRO 2018 Fate and Impact of Microplastics: Knowledge, Actions …

Umwelt 2018

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry – German Language Branch (SETAC GLB) and Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology of the German Chemical Society (GDCH FG U&Ö)  Münster, Germany Session about microplastic/nanoparticles/polymers in the environment https://www.uni-muenster.de/GeoPalaeontologie/Geologie/Angewandte/Umwelt2018/index.html

Participating Institutes

In 2017, the German Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG) and the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (ICWRGC) organized a Summer School about plastics in marine and freshwater environments providing the state-of-the-art in research, measures and management options. One of the outcomes of this Summer School is the creation of a platform in order to share insights into the current (country-specific) situation, discuss related challenges and enhance collaboration opportunities in the future. The participating institutes present their research projects about plastics in freshwater and coastal environments.

Research projects:

Current list of participating institutes:

EuropeNorth AmricaSouth America AfricaAsiaOceania
  • Federal Instituto of Paraná
    Project name: Transboundary movement of marine litter in an estuarine gradient: Evaluating sources and sinks using hydrodynamic modelling and ground truthing estimates

Latest Publications

First evaluation of neustonic microplastics in Black Sea waters

Abstract: The Black Sea has a high risk of plastic pollution given the high river discharge of several industrialized countries into this semi-enclosed sea. Here, for the first time, the occurrence and distribution of microplastics are reported for the Black Sea. Microplastics were assessed from zooplankton samples taken during two cruises along the south eastern …

Raman Tweezers for Small Microplastics and Nanoplastics Identification in Seawater

Abstract: Our understanding of the fate and distribution of micro- and nano- plastics in the marine environment is limited by the intrinsic difficulties of the techniques currently used for the detection, quantification, and chemical identification of small particles in liquid (light scattering, vibrational spectroscopies, and optical and electron microscopies). Here we introduce Raman Tweezers (RTs), …

Biological Weathering and Geochemical Fractionation by Termites: A Case Study of Loessic Sediments

Abstract: Termites are ecosystem engineers who transform soil and sediments and make mounds. They transport and mix large quantities of sediments across the horizons of the mounds, modify their immediate environment at different depths. We have tried to understand the role of termites in weathering and geochemical transformations of homogeneous sediments of termite mounds of …


If you are interested in joining this network or to add information about activities, publications etc., please contact us by email (pla-net@bafg.de). Everybody is invited to share information about plastics.

Federal Institute of Hydrology
Postfach 200253
D-56002 Koblenz

Office Building:
Am Mainzer Tor 1
D-56068 Koblenz

Contact Person:
Dr Friederike Stock
Telephone: +49 261 1306 5953
Mail: pla-net@bafg.de