Plastic Pirates

All waterways flow into the sea

German school classes investigate plastic waste in German rivers

Everything that lands in streams and rivers can be washed into the seas and oceans – plastic waste for example. It endangers animals and finds its way into the marine food chain. However, the presence of plastic waste in German waterways is largely unexplored. Our citizen science project "Plastic Pirates – The Sea Begins Here!" is designed for young people between 10 and 16 is helping to close this gap in knowledge.

In spring 2020, young people between 10 and 16 are therefore invited for a sixth time since autumn 2016 to undertake a scientific expedition as "Plastic Pirates". Just like real scientists they explore the waterways to find, count and document macroplastics – such as the remains of plastic bags, discarded plastic bottles or tangled fishing lines – and microplastics, which are barely visible microparticles. The groups document their results on a digital map of Germany.

"Plastic Pirates" is a citizen science campaign which contributes to research on the distribution of macro- and microplastics along German rivers. It is part of the research focus “Plastics in the Environment” of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is carried out by Ecologic Institute in cooperation with ozean:labor at Kieler Forschungswerkstatt.


More information about the campaign and first results (in German)

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