The "Roundtable on Marine Litter" goes back to an initiative by the Federal Environment Ministry and the German Environment Agency from the year 2016. It was initiated in order to develop and coordinate national measures to combat marine litter and to support their implementation. In a recent briefing paper, the working group on microplastic within the Roundtable on Marine Litter called for a fast reduction in the discharge of microplastic into the North Sea and Baltic Sea and listed 28 measures for cutting down the amount of microplastic that gets into the seas.
The briefing paper is the result of a three-part series of workshops that were held by the German Environment Agency and the research institute Fraunhofer UMSICHT, together with the working group of the Roundtable on Marine Litter with the participation of over 80 external experts. In the report written by Jürgen Bertling (Fraunhofer UMSICHT), Kirsten Dau (NLWKN), Dr. Uwe Selig (PT Jülich) and Stefanie Werner (Roundtable), microplastic can be regarded as a complex environmental problem requiring a wide range of different measures. The report lists a total of 40 different sources of microplastic. These include among others the microplastics that are intentionally added as a product component in the cosmetics industry, as well as microplastic that is produced unintentionally through the abrasion of car tyres or through the wear and weathering of plastic products during their use. Also listed in the report are carelessly discarded plastic articles such as disposable packaging, which decomposes over a long period through the effects of the weather, and releases microplastic in the process. With regard to the sources and released volumes, however, the report says that it still has to rely on estimates. To obtain reliable figures here, further in-depth empirical studies are needed.
To reduce the water pollution due to microplastic, the report gives a brief description of 28 proposals for effective measures that are prioritised according to their relevance for protecting the seas. The release of microplastic through tyre abrasion is regarded as particularly relevant, as is the reduction of discharges from textiles and from the construction industry. The treatment of rainwater should also be improved because this was identified as a key discharge pathway for microplastic discharges. In addition, the plastics industry is called on to provide the existing voluntary concepts such as "Operation Clean Sweep" with an externally validated certification for pellets from plastic materials from industrial applications. The identified and evaluated measures can, in the authors' opinion, make a contribution to revising the framework directive on marine protection and also to stimulating corresponding work at a German and European level.
Further information: Briefing paper from the Roundtable on Marine Litter (German language)
- k-zeitung.de (7.3.2022)
- muell-im-meer.de (2.3.2022)
- „Mikroplastikeinträge in die marine Umwelt – Stand des Wissens und Handlungsoptionen“, Roundtable Marine Litter, WG Landbasierte Einträge, Unterarbeitsgruppe Mikroplast, Bertling, J., Dau, K., Selig, U., Werner, S., (2.3.2022)
- Photo: Marine Litter, BKV stock