Plastics in the Environment

Plastic waste in the sea – a global challenge

Waste in the sea is a much-noticed issue. Some of the waste, at least the most visible, is plastic. They end up there because plastic is discharged into the environment often in an uncontrolled manner. Plastics are valuable materials and therefore far too valuable to swim unused in the oceans as waste at the end of their useful life. Whether and how the waste already present in the oceans can be disposed of in an orderly manner is a challenge of our time; the avoidance of further discharges of waste is another.

In the field of marine litter, the BKV contributes to the necessary fact-oriented clarification - by providing the necessary information and carrying out the corresponding projects. The BKV concentrates on so-called land-sourced littering, i.e. the input of plastics into water bodies from land. The main focus is on the collection, development and processing of "data and facts", in particular with regard to mass flows and their transport routes into the sea.

From land to sea - model for the documentation of land-sourced plastic litter

How do plastics get into the oceans? What quantities of plastics end up in the oceans? Only if these questions can be answered is it possible to make an effective contribution to preventing further discharges into the oceans.

On behalf of BKV GmbH, the model "From land to sea - model for the documentation of land-sourced plastic litter" was developed. For the first time, this model systematically records the inputs of plastic waste from Germany that has not been properly disposed of and that reaches the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. All input paths and sources are taken into account. A distinction is made between micro- and macroplastics.

In addition to the model, individual topics were examined in detail in separate reports. For example, there is currently an estimate of the proportion of plastics in littering and a detailed quantity calculation with regard to the input sources compost and fermentation residues with relevance for the North Sea. These special considerations are supplements to the model "From land to sea - model for the documentation of land-sourced plastic litter".

The current model was developed by Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH. The work on the model is supported by FCIO Fachverband der Chemischen Industrie Österreich, IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V., PlasticsEurope Deutschland and VDMA Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e.V. - Fachverband Kunststoff- und Gummimaschinen.

MicBin – Microplastics in inland waters

"MicBin - Microplastics in inland waters" is a joint project within the BMBF research priority "Plastics in the Environment - Sources - Sinks - Approaches to Solutions". The aim of this research focus is to develop and establish scientific procedures, methods, instruments and terms for the investigation of plastics in the environment. A total of 18 collaborative projects and one accompanying scientific project will be funded with around 35 million euros between 2017 and 2021. More than 100 institutions from science, industry and practice are involved in this currently the world's largest research focus, which investigates the effects of plastics on the environment.

The MicBin project pursues the goal of balancing the input of plastic particles for a larger catchment area of an inland waterway for the first time. The German Danube catchment area serves as an exemplary object of investigation. The project is coordinated by the TZW: DVGW-Technologiezentrum Wasser in Karlsruhe. The BKV participates in this project as a network partner and contributes in particular the model "From land to sea - a model for recording land-based plastic litter" for the balancing of the entries. Further project partners are the Bavarian State Office for the Environment in Augsburg, the Federal Institute for Hydrology in Koblenz, the Cologne Technical University, the University of Augsburg and the University of Osnabrück.

Further information on the research focus can be found at:


Further information on the MicBin project can be found at:


Marine Litter Newsletter

The BKV informs in irregular intervals about relevant news from research and science, politics and economy and about further interesting projects and plans. The newsletter is available in German and English.