Floating Macro Litter in European Rivers – Top Items

Author: Daniel González-Fernández, Georg Hanke and RiLON network
Year of Publication: 2018
Published: UR 29383 EN, Publication office of the European Union, Luxembourg

The JRC exploratory project RIMMEL provides information about litter, mainly plastic waste, entering the European Seas through river systems. RIMMEL has collected data on riverine floating macro litter inputs to the sea. Data acquisition was based on the Riverine Litter Observation Network (RiLON) activities, which collected data from rivers in the European marine basins over a period of one year (September 2016 – September 2017). Data was collected by visual observations and documented with the JRC Floating Litter Monitoring Application for mobile devices, allowing a harmonized reporting,… compatible with the MSFD Master List of Categories for Litter Items. This report includes the Top Items lists of riverine floating macro litter, based on the total amount of litter items identified during RiLON activities and ranked by abundance. Top Items lists have been elaborated considering the whole database for the European Seas and further detailed for each individual European regional sea: Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and North-East Atlantic. The North-East Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea regions showed similar litter categories in their Top 20 Items. These two regions provided most of the available data, influencing the general Top Items list. In the Black Sea and Baltic Sea regions, where data availability was limited, the Top Items lists showed more differences among the different regions. Overall, the general Top Items list for the European Seas showed a predominance of plastic item categories (artificial polymer materials). As a whole, plastic items made up to 80.8% of all objects, with plastic and polystyrene fragments comprising 45% of the identified items in the database. Additionally, Single Use Plastics such as bottles, cover/packaging and bags were also ranked among the most frequently found floating litter. The similarities in the Top 10 and Top 20 items for the different regions, and the appearance of Single Use Plastics scoring high in the ranking, support the need for common actions against plastic pollution at EU level.

Aquatic environment, Data collection, Environmental monitoring, Environmental protection, Environmental research, Inland waterway, Pollution control, Pollution of waterways, Research report, Water pollutant, Water pollution, Watercourse

González-Fernández, D., Hanke, G., RiLON network, 2018. Floating Macro Litter in European Rivers – Top Items. EUR 29383 EN, Publication office of the European Union, Luxembourg, ISBN 978-92-79-96373-5, doi.org/10.2760/316058.