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Collecting River Litter in
Watersheds: a blueprint
Gijsbert Tweehuysen / Yvon Wolthuis
Waste free Waters / ISI
June 2013
The overall picture
Litter is an emission!
“managed”
residue
(landfill)
Ecological impacts:
Exhaustion of resources and
Emissions (gasses, liq...
Litter is an emission of inert solids
• Litter-emissions are different from “known/familiar” chemical
or gaseous emissions...
Litter can be emitted from every stage of
the present and future (circular) economy
• Pre-production materials (pellets)
•...
Lighter solids will be transported by water
• Results Meuse sampling (Mosa Pura):
– Plastics are dominant
– Large and smal...
Found concentration of items/km2
in upper part of the water column (0 – 70 cm)
Items per km2 (surface and suspension toget...
Items larger and smaller than 25 mm
Number of items caught
0
100
200
300
400
500
600
surface suspension
Large and small
0%...
Surface vs. Suspension
Surface
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
1 2 3 4 5
Suspension
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%...
Items surface vs. suspension
per km2
0
10.000
20.000
30.000
40.000
50.000
60.000
70.000
Surface per km2 Suspension per km2...
Number of items transported
towards the sea
Number of items per hour
0
5.000
10.000
15.000
20.000
25.000
30.000
35.000
1 2...
From source to sink
The most promising approach for river
litter is aimed at it’s sources
River litter sources:
1. Fly-tipping and illegal dum...
Ultimate destinations
• Sinks:
– Land (waste in remote places on land)
– River bottom and sediment (empty Meuse
bottom)
– ...
In the meantime:
• Physical effects (e.g. on biota)
– Microplastics (< 1 mm): plankton and mussels
– Mesoplastics (< 5 mm)...
Catch litter before it’s gone.
• At sea litter is too dispersed to catch!
• The river is the last interception place
• Cat...
Characteristics of river litter
Characteristics of river litter
To catch river litter, these
characteristics are relevant:
• Size
• Material
• Surface to ...
Characteristics of river litter
• Size:
– Micro < 1 mm
• Not visible with naked eye
– Meso from 1- 5 mm (“new” category)
•...
Characteristics of river litter
• Material:
– Non-plastics:
• Metal
• Glass
• Paper/board
• Ceramic
• Natural materials an...
Characteristics of river litter
• Shape: surface to volume ratio (s/v-ratio)
– High:
• Extruded film and foil; thin walled...
Characteristics of river litter
• Buoyancy
– High:
• Closed hollow products (PET bottle)
• Closed-cell foams (EPS, PUR-foa...
Some consequences:
• Size determines collection tools and
equipment
• Material determines the actual or potential
toxicity...
Approach towards a solution
of the river litter problem:
Before litter gets in the water:
• Stop using products, e.g …
– microplastics in cosmetics (Beat the Microbeads)
– Shoppin...
When litter is in the water:
• On surface:
– Deflection booms
– Floating litter traps
But: obstructing river navigation
• ...
Catch what, where and how.
SW: specific weight
S/V ratio: surface/volume ratio
Floating:
High buoyancy
or
SW < 1 g/m2 and
...
Conclusions and suggested
approach
Prevent emissions is ultimate
• Circular economy should be leak-proof
• Develop “anti-littering” campaigns and attitude
• ...
Catch microplastics
(< 1 mm)
• Stop using microplastics when possible
• Filter at source (e.g. washing machines)
• Filtrat...
Catch mesoplastics
(1-5 mm)
• Catch at emission point
• Focus on waste water treatment plants
• Stop using products that f...
Catch small macroplastics
(5-25 mm)
• Catch rigid floating fraction in tributaries
(sw < 1, s/v low)
• Catch flexible floa...
Catch large macroplastics
(> 25 mm)
• Catch rigid floating fraction (sw < 1, s/v small) on
surface in rivers or tributarie...
Measures:
Measures which can be taken
immediately:
1. Increase public awareness on litter problem
2. Strengthen anti-litter behavior...
Floating Litter Traps
litter traps in different situations
Bandalong litter traps
Destination of collected litter
Recovery options
• Litter is dominated by plastics
• Plastics are manufactured from oil
• Litter can replace “virgin” mate...
But, limitations for recovery are :
• Many different polymer types in the collected litter
• Probably degraded by UV-light...
Mosa Pura:
a clean Meuse in 2020
Why not? Let’s go for it!
Information:
Waste Free Waters
• Ir. Gijsbert Tweehuysen
• Mob: +31 (0) 653693382
• E-mail: wastefreewaters@hotmail.com
• ...
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130628 catching river litter blueprint 2013

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  • deze LINK (doorschuiven naar 3.20 svp) is heel belangrijk voor hen die meer willen weten over plastic afval in de natuur. http://youtu.be/znCKx9lXmPg
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  • Die foto's van de littertraps vond ik erg aansprekend.
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  • Prima verhaal. Begint weer helemaal bij nul, maar dat kan ook een voordeel zijn.

    Mijn inschatting is dat het hele verhaal van preventie van littering al maximaal gedaan wordt, (gemeenteschoon en nederlandschoon) zou daar nog winst te behalen zijn? Meer sociaal stigma op litteren?
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130628 catching river litter blueprint 2013

  1. 1. Collecting River Litter in Watersheds: a blueprint Gijsbert Tweehuysen / Yvon Wolthuis Waste free Waters / ISI June 2013
  2. 2. The overall picture
  3. 3. Litter is an emission! “managed” residue (landfill) Ecological impacts: Exhaustion of resources and Emissions (gasses, liquids and solids) needed goods recovered/ recycled waste collected waste consumption/ use added product post-use waste fulfilled needs unfulfilled needs resources Circular economy: cost/profit driven
  4. 4. Litter is an emission of inert solids • Litter-emissions are different from “known/familiar” chemical or gaseous emissions. • Litter is an emerging global ecological problem and there is no adequate legal framework to deal with it. • Detection/sampling requires a different scale – Detection of chemicals in water: microgrammes per liter – Detection of solids in water: grammes per 1000 m3 • Hardly any methods for detection and no standards for emissions of (non-toxic or inert) solids in water. • Plastics dominate litter emissions • Plastics behave different in water compared to minerals
  5. 5. Litter can be emitted from every stage of the present and future (circular) economy • Pre-production materials (pellets) • Lost products/parts (broken car parts) • Post-use products (littered beverage pack) • Collected products (hygiene products from wwt-plants) • Recycled products (scrap) • Landfilled products (picked by birds) • The (circular) economic system leaks!
  6. 6. Lighter solids will be transported by water • Results Meuse sampling (Mosa Pura): – Plastics are dominant – Large and small fragments – Floating, suspended and sinking – Hydraulic/meteorological conditions are relevant – Multiple sources – Broad range of materials – Contaminated and mixed – Mixed with organic/natural materials
  7. 7. Found concentration of items/km2 in upper part of the water column (0 – 70 cm) Items per km2 (surface and suspension together) 0 10.000 20.000 30.000 40.000 50.000 60.000 70.000 80.000 1 2 3 4 5 totaal flex rigid Suggests a relationship with throughput (298, 125, 0, 113, 113 m3/s) total flexible rigid 80.000 70.000 60.000 50.000 40.000 30.000 20.000 10.000 0
  8. 8. Items larger and smaller than 25 mm Number of items caught 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 surface suspension Large and small 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% surface suspension Majority of items (± 75%) are “small” macroplastics (between 3,2 mm and 25 mm) > 25 mm (large) < 25 mm rigid < 25 mm flex surface suspension surface suspension 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 100% 0% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10%
  9. 9. Surface vs. Suspension Surface 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 1 2 3 4 5 Suspension 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 1 2 3 4 5 More rigids on the surface More flexibles in suspension rigid flexible 100% 0% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 100% 0% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10%
  10. 10. Items surface vs. suspension per km2 0 10.000 20.000 30.000 40.000 50.000 60.000 70.000 Surface per km2 Suspension per km2/m3 totaal flex rigid More items on surface, most rigids Less items in suspension, most flexibles total flexible rigid 70.000 60.000 50.000 40.000 30.000 20.000 10.000 0 surface suspension
  11. 11. Number of items transported towards the sea Number of items per hour 0 5.000 10.000 15.000 20.000 25.000 30.000 35.000 1 2 3 4 5 • Average: 15.127 items/hr – Flexible: 6.079 items – Rigid: 9.049 items • Maximum: 30.387 items/hr – Flexible: 8.417 items – Rigid: 21.970 items • Conditions: – Water velocity: ± 3 km/hr – Width river: 150 m – Only top 70 cm total flexible rigid 10.000 35.000 30.000 25.000 20.000 15.000 5.000 0
  12. 12. From source to sink
  13. 13. The most promising approach for river litter is aimed at it’s sources River litter sources: 1. Fly-tipping and illegal dumping in the flood plain 2. Run-off from streets and roadsides in the catchment area 3. Sewage overflows to rivers and tributaries 4. Industrial spills (pellets and scrap)
  14. 14. Ultimate destinations • Sinks: – Land (waste in remote places on land) – River bottom and sediment (empty Meuse bottom) – Beaches (remote beaches) – Sea bottom (deep sea pictures)
  15. 15. In the meantime: • Physical effects (e.g. on biota) – Microplastics (< 1 mm): plankton and mussels – Mesoplastics (< 5 mm): smaller fish and birds (Fulmars) – Small macroplastics (< 25 mm): larger fish and birds (Albatrosses) – Large macroplastics (>25 mm): bigger fish and marine mammals (whales) • Toxicological effects (delivering POP’s into food chain) • Impacting ecosystems on seafloor • Impacting recreational, agricultural, economic value of floodplains and beaches • Endangering use of waters (entangled boat screws and blocked cooling systems)
  16. 16. Catch litter before it’s gone. • At sea litter is too dispersed to catch! • The river is the last interception place • Catch closer to the source is better • Catch emissions at emission points is best • Catch diffuse emissions (fly-litter) in tributaries • Prevent emission is ultimate • Refrain from using “uncatchables” (< 1 mm) (microbeads in cosmetics)
  17. 17. Characteristics of river litter
  18. 18. Characteristics of river litter To catch river litter, these characteristics are relevant: • Size • Material • Surface to Volume ratio (s/v ratio) • Buoyancy
  19. 19. Characteristics of river litter • Size: – Micro < 1 mm • Not visible with naked eye – Meso from 1- 5 mm (“new” category) • Cannot be “picked” – Macro-small from 5 - 25 mm • Difficult to pick, • small products or fragments from original products – Macro-large > 25 mm • Very visible, can be picked
  20. 20. Characteristics of river litter • Material: – Non-plastics: • Metal • Glass • Paper/board • Ceramic • Natural materials and textile fibers – Plastics: • PE (LD, LLD, HD), PP, EVA (sw < 1) • PET, PC, PA, ABS, PUR, PS, PVC, rubbers (sw > 1) – Combinations • PE insulated electrical wire
  21. 21. Characteristics of river litter • Shape: surface to volume ratio (s/v-ratio) – High: • Extruded film and foil; thin walled, flexible plastics – Plastic bags and wrappers – Average: • Thicker extruded/thermoformed products and films – PS coffeecups, foodtrays • Thin walled injection moulded products – buttercups – Low: • Most rigid injection moulded or thick extruded products – Plastic pellets, bottle caps – PP or PVC pipes or fragments – Cotton butt sticks
  22. 22. Characteristics of river litter • Buoyancy – High: • Closed hollow products (PET bottle) • Closed-cell foams (EPS, PUR-foam, PE-foam) • Most lighter plastics (sw < 1) with low s/v ratio – PE, PP – Neutral: • Contaminated products (sand filled PE bag) • Most plastics with high s/v ratio – Low: • Most heavier plastics (sw > 1) with low s/v ratio – PET, PS, PA, PUR, PVC, PC
  23. 23. Some consequences: • Size determines collection tools and equipment • Material determines the actual or potential toxicity of littered products and revalorisation options • Shape determines the behaviour of litter in moving water and whether litter is deposited on banks or in vegetation • Buoyancy determines the place of litter in calm waters
  24. 24. Approach towards a solution of the river litter problem:
  25. 25. Before litter gets in the water: • Stop using products, e.g … – microplastics in cosmetics (Beat the Microbeads) – Shopping bags (Ban the Bag) – EPS foam in packaging • Prevent emissions, e.g … – Leak-proof waste management systems – Anti-littering programs (education at schools) – Technical solutions at water treatment plants (membrane filtration) – Emission controlled landfill sites (birds, wind) • Clean-up campaigns, e.g … – Nederland Schoon – Schone Maas Limburg – My Beach
  26. 26. When litter is in the water: • On surface: – Deflection booms – Floating litter traps But: obstructing river navigation • In water column: – Fences and screens – Nets But: problematic for fish migration and water passage • On bottom: – Dredging in calm waters But: Different “business”
  27. 27. Catch what, where and how. SW: specific weight S/V ratio: surface/volume ratio Floating: High buoyancy or SW < 1 g/m2 and small s/v ratio < 1 mm microplastics 1 - 5 mm mesoplastics 5 - 25 mm macroplastics > 25 mm macroplastics Sinking: Low buoyancy or SW > 1 g/m2 and small s/v ratio Suspended: Neutral buoyancy or SW ≈ 1 g/m2 and high s/v ratio Prevent use or catch at treatment plant Prevent use or catch at treatment plant Catch at emission point Catch at surface in tributaries or non-navigated rivers Catch at surface in tributaries or non-navigated rivers Prevent use or catch at treatment plant Catch at surface (sw < 1) in shallow water or clean up before entering water Catch at surface (sw < 1) in shallow water or clean up before entering water Catch at emission point Catch at emission point Recover from dredged sediment Clean up before fragmentation and entering water and recover from dredged sediment
  28. 28. Conclusions and suggested approach
  29. 29. Prevent emissions is ultimate • Circular economy should be leak-proof • Develop “anti-littering” campaigns and attitude • Facilitate any waste management system that prevents emissions, also financially
  30. 30. Catch microplastics (< 1 mm) • Stop using microplastics when possible • Filter at source (e.g. washing machines) • Filtration at waste water treatment plant • It is practically impossible to catch microplastics in surface water
  31. 31. Catch mesoplastics (1-5 mm) • Catch at emission point • Focus on waste water treatment plants • Stop using products that fall apart easily (e.g. EPS) • Support Clean Sweep initiatives (pre-production pellets)
  32. 32. Catch small macroplastics (5-25 mm) • Catch rigid floating fraction in tributaries (sw < 1, s/v low) • Catch flexible floating fraction (sw < 1, s/v high) in tributaries with little turbulence and limited depth • Catch flexible sinking fraction (sw > 1, s/v is high) in tributaries with some turbulence and limited depth • Clean up large sinking fraction before it get fragmented and small fragments can reach the waters
  33. 33. Catch large macroplastics (> 25 mm) • Catch rigid floating fraction (sw < 1, s/v small) on surface in rivers or tributaries • Collect flexible suspended fraction (s/v high) in tributaries with little turbulence and limited depth, but preferably before entering the water • Collect sinking flexibles and rigids before entering the water and before they get fragmented
  34. 34. Measures:
  35. 35. Measures which can be taken immediately: 1. Increase public awareness on litter problem 2. Strengthen anti-litter behavior 3. Develop/expand clean up programs 4. Improve performance of water treatment plants: Focus on micro and meso plastics 5. Install floating litter traps preferably in (shallow) tributaries 6. Install multiple floating litter traps in rivers (in outside bend) 7. Remove sinking litter from sediment by dredging in slow streaming water 8. Install monitoring program to determine effectiveness of all measures
  36. 36. Floating Litter Traps litter traps in different situations Bandalong litter traps
  37. 37. Destination of collected litter
  38. 38. Recovery options • Litter is dominated by plastics • Plastics are manufactured from oil • Litter can replace “virgin” materials, through – Material recycling – Chemical recycling (Pyrolysis) – Energy recycling • Necessary technologies are available
  39. 39. But, limitations for recovery are : • Many different polymer types in the collected litter • Probably degraded by UV-light • Contaminated with organic matter But: • Prevention of river litter flowing to the oceans should be the first objective! Therefore: • Catching litter should have higher priority than high value recovery!
  40. 40. Mosa Pura: a clean Meuse in 2020 Why not? Let’s go for it!
  41. 41. Information: Waste Free Waters • Ir. Gijsbert Tweehuysen • Mob: +31 (0) 653693382 • E-mail: wastefreewaters@hotmail.com • Twitter: @wastefreewaters • Blog: www.wastefreewaters.wordpress.com

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