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Marine litter
Marine litter is a global problem that affects every ocean of the world. Litter is an environmental, human health and socio-economic problem that is a symptom of a highly disposable society.

With worldwide growth in the amount of solid litter thrown away every day and slow rates of degradation, the amount of litter present in the marine environment is increasing.

Research

Interview with Professor Ad Ragas as published in Dutch online publication

September 2018 Radar Limburg interviewed Professor Ad Ragas. The translated interview is available.

You don't have to be a scientist to understand that all the plastic floating around in the sea or being deposited on the bottom of the oceans, will eventually have an effect on aquatic life. The only problem is, says Professor Ad Ragas (Eindhoven, 1964), that we don't exactly know what effect it will have. Ragas supervises the Plastic Research Group at the Science department of the Open Universiteit (OU). Scientists and students do research on where micro plastics originate, where they go and what risks they pose to humans and animals. This is a complex issue because it is difficult to distinguish between the many different types of micro plastics. 'It takes years to get a grip on them, for example because it can take hundreds of years before plastics are completely dissolved. In any case, we try to map out the entire process.'

Read more

Interview with Professor Ad Ragas as published in Dutch online publication

September 2018 Radar Limburg interviewed Professor Ad Ragas. The translated interview is available.

You don't have to be a scientist to understand that all the plastic floating around in the sea or being deposited on the bottom of the oceans, will eventually have an effect on aquatic life. The only problem is, says Professor Ad Ragas (Eindhoven, 1964), that we don't exactly know what effect it will have. Ragas supervises the Plastic Research Group at the Science department of the Open Universiteit (OU). Scientists and students do research on where micro plastics originate, where they go and what risks they pose to humans and animals. This is a complex issue because it is difficult to distinguish between the many different types of micro plastics. 'It takes years to get a grip on them, for example because it can take hundreds of years before plastics are completely dissolved. In any case, we try to map out the entire process.'

This analysis is now being done in collaboration with the Soegijapranata University of Semarang in Indonesia. Samples of fish and shellfish are collected to be examined for micro plastics. The local population will also be scrutinized to establish how much fish and shellfish is consumed. Starting from that it is possible to estimate how many micro plastics are digested. Ragas: 'Research shows that micro plastics are not excreted from animals, but they do not die from them. French research shows that oysters do grow slower as a result of all those micro plastics in the water.'

Ragas points out that the effects are global: if you throw plastic waste into the Meuse, the consequences will not be limited to the Hollands Diep.

Floating cotton swabs

Evidence has yet to be provided that plastics in rivers and oceans are harmful. Yet, according to Ragas, history teaches us that if something is found somewhere which does not belong there, it will irrevocably lead to changes in the (eco)system. 'We cannot show the consequences of, for example, cotton swabs (cotton buds or Q-Tips) floating in the seas all over the world. Simply because these things will not be dissolved after a hundred years, and we have only been working on research for fifteen years at most.'

One of his students, Pieter Jan Kole, got the bright idea to do research on an invisible flow of micro plastics that we all help to disperse into the environment: wear and tear particles of car tires. The findings are remarkable. Ragas: 'If we were to make new tires out of this wear and tear alone, we would end up annually - in the Netherlands alone - with a tower of thirty kilometers high. That stuff is now washed into the ground and into the rivers by rainwater runoff. On a worldwide scale we are talking about three mega oil tankers full of wear and tear waste ending up in the sea. 'The difficult thing is that we don't have any exact measured data, so we can't distinguish the plastic particles of a cola bottle, or those of a rubber band in the sea.' In Nijmegen, where he also works at the Radboud University, he is currently doing research in the sewers to learn how to tell the difference. Is rubber plastic, by the way? 'We think so when it comes to car tires, half are made out of natural rubber, the other half of synthetic rubber which we label 'plastic'. 'By the way, there is another stream of micro plastics that we all help spreading. It originates in our clothing, which often and increasingly is produced using plastic. Take fleece jerseys, for example. Fibers are being released in the washing machine. We are currently working on washing machines with effective filters.'

Environment versus critics

The question can be put whether we should do something about that stream of plastic, if it is not certain whether and how harmful it is. Ragas: 'Environmentalists are constantly fighting critics who want to see evidence first before they take action. That does not mean that nothing needs to happen if you have no evidence. We saw it with smoking or radiation: everyone felt it was bad for you but the proof had yet to be provided. We have to revert the issue: do not tolerate plastic in the sea unless you can show and make it plausible that it is not dangerous. Now it is some sort of anarchy out there: people and companies can do whatever they want in the oceans, as long as we are not sure it's turning out badly.'

Ragas believes that business and politics should not wait for science. 'As a scientist, I can only decide on facts. To claim something when there is no evidence goes against everything I believe in as a scientist. But everyone knows that plastic is everywhere, so everyone has to be convinced that something has to happen.'

What to do, a ban on plastic? According to Ragas, that is not the solution. 'To some extent, plastic waste can be collected by a refuse collection structure. In this respect, we are doing much better in Europe than countries such as China or Indonesia. The solution lies partly in technological innovation. I would not be surprised if public authorities like Rijkswaterstaat at some point comes up with gutters along the road that can collect the rainwater runoff with the tire wear and then filter it.' The tire industry has also contacted the Plastic Research Group. 'They like to think along, they don't make tires to bring micro plastics into the environment'.

Dead water

Ragas is skeptical when it comes to biodegradable plastic. 'Then you run the risk that people will dispose of it everywhere. Biodegradable does not mean that it is biodegradable under all conditions. I guarantee that a cola bottle made of biodegradable plastic at a depth of 2,000 meters on the seabed will not break down. And if it does break down, on a compost pile for example, the question remains: into what does it break down? Breaking down into even smaller particles of plastic, is still not what you want. What's more: this decomposition is done by microorganisms that will thrive as a result. They use oxygen, which in the long run results in dead water. We have to think very carefully about these effects. The essence of environmental science is: if you change something in one place, it has consequences somewhere else.'

In the short term the professor of Environmental Science has a few viable solutions for the problems which occur when overcoming our dependency on plastic. Paper is an alternative. 'To do this, you need more sustainable production forests, but that is soluble. Awareness is also important: less plastic should be produced and used in the household. Better not buy four plastic trays of salad at a supermarket like Albert Heijn. And if you do use plastic, make sure it is disposed of properly so it does not end up in the environment.' Ragas is also an advocate of introducing deposits on plastic and cans. 'The packaging industry has taken responsibility for a large part of the waste, but still some people simply throw away their litter. The system is not conclusive, so you have to come up with something else. If deposit charges were introduced, people would collect plastic and keep the neighbourhood clean.'

Source: https://www.radarlimburg.nl/themas/plastic/

International Workshop on 24 and 25 August 2018

SEMARANG - The new Doctoral Program in Environmental Science of the Soegijapranata Catholic University (UNIKA) held an International Workshop on 24 and 25 August 2018 that was led by two environmental experts from the Open University of the Netherlands, namely Dr. Frank Van Belleghem and Dr Ansje Löhr. The workshop was held for PhD students and lecturers of the Doctoral Program.
The two speakers shared stories about dealing with plastic waste. Frank shared his knowledge on his research related to the environment and especially related to plastic pollution. 'Within our collaboration with the Soegijapranata Catholic University, one of our main topics is plastic pollution'. 'The impact of plastic pollution is huge. We therefore also want to see which stakeholders are involved in order to find effective solutions to overcome the problem,' Frank explained. The team tries to explore the effects of microplastics on human health, especially related to plastic waste in the coastal urban area. During the workshop, he also shared methods used to prevent or reduce plastic waste.
Dr. Ansje Lohr mentioned that she was happy to come again to UNIKA to share her knowledge with the new PhD students. 'The last six years, we have collaborated with UNIKA to conduct research on waste management and plastic pollution, one of the world's largest environmental problems,' Ansje said.
Published at www.suaramerdeka.com

Article National Geographic

In a recently published dutch article Toe naar minder plastic environmental scientist Jikke van Wijnen discusses her upcoming publication about the transport of microplastics from rivers to oceans.

Spring 2018 activities covered in the media

Videos

Marine litter is a global problem that affects every citizen in our world. Indonesia is a show-case of how marine litter has become a symptom of a highly disposable society. Our scientists are working with their partners to tackle Marine Litter. And our PhD student Inneke Hantoro in Semarang is doing important research on the topic. Get acquainted with the work of Inneke Hantoro and watch the BBC video. In case you are interested in some work of our Marine Litter partners watch this short BBC video.

BBC news

April 2018 David Shukman, science editor BBC News, visited Indonesia with some of our staff members. His articles on Marine Litter were published on the BBC website and covered in social media. We selected these two articles for his opinion about the problems in Indonesia.
Giant plastic 'berg blocks Indonesian river
A crisis of plastic waste in Indonesia has become so acute that the army has been called in to help. Rivers and canals are clogged with dense masses of bottles, bags and other plastic packaging. This article includes a statement of our prof. Ad Ragas.
Indonesian study into health risks of microplastics
Indonesian scientists have launched the largest ever study into whether tiny plastic particles can affect human health. They are investigating the presence of plastic in seafood while also tracking the diets of 2,000 people. There is no evidence yet that ingesting small pieces of plastic is harmful but potential impacts cannot be ruled out. Plastic pollution has become so severe in Indonesia that the army has been called in to help.

Ad Ragas in BBC News: Indonesian Government sees plastic problem now as a really big problem

19th April BBC News mentioned that the crisis of plastic waste in Indonesia has become so acute that the army has been called in to help. The author stated that prof. Ad Ragas, with long experience of Indonesia's plastic problem, told him he has detected an important shift in the authorities.

Two years ago, when prof. Ad Ragas organised a workshop on plastic pollution in Bandung, 'government officials didn't seem to care about it, they didn't see it as a really big problem'. By contrast, at another workshop held last month, 'it's changed dramatically'.

Social media, rapidly conveying images of choked waterways, had made a difference to people, prof Ad Ragas said. 'They immediately see that 'this is what my river look likes now and I'm doing that because I'm throwing all this plastic away' so they get feedback much quicker than they used to.'

Politico article devotes attention to research staff Science

On 5 April 2018, the renowned magazine Politico Europe devoted an article to the consequences of environmental pollution caused by tyre wear. Pieter Jan Kole points out the fact that this waste mainly ends up in soil and shallow waters and not only in the sea. Kole carried out research on tyre wear at the Science department at the Open University.

Published paper: Solutions for global marine litter pollution

Download paper
Highlights:
- Knowledge on the causes and solutions of marine litter offers a base for effective action
- Solutions to marine litter are found in a transition towards sustainable societies
- Appropriate responses could be based on possible interventions and success factors
- Dynamics of marine litter actions differ and orchestration at all levels is lacking.

Published: Wear and Tear of Tyres: A Stealthy Source of Microplastics in the Environment

Download paper
Wear and tear from tyres significantly contributes to the flow of (micro-)plastics into the environment. This paper compiles the fragmented knowledge on tyre wear and tear characteristics, amounts of particles emitted, pathways in the environment, and the possible effects on humans. The estimated per capita emission ranges from 0.23 to 4.7 kg/year, with a global average of 0.81 kg/year. The emissions from car tyres (100%) are substantially higher than those of other sources of microplastics, e.g., airplane tyres (2%), artificial turf (12–50%), brake wear (8%) and road markings (5%). Emissions and pathways depend on local factors like road type or sewage systems. The relative contribution of tyre wear and tear to the total global amount of plastics ending up in our oceans is estimated to be 5–10%. In air, 3–7% of the particulate matter (PM2.5) is estimated to consist of tyre wear and tear, indicating that it may contribute to the global health burden of air pollution which has been projected by the World Health Organization (WHO) at 3 million deaths in 2012. The wear and tear also enters our food chain, but further research is needed to assess human health risks. It is concluded here that tyre wear and tear is a stealthy source of microplastics in our environment, which can only be addressed effectively if awareness increases, knowledge gaps on quantities and effects are being closed, and creative technical solutions are being sought. This requires a global effort from all stakeholders; consumers, regulators, industry and researchers alike.

The risk of microplastics in Indonesian coastal areas for coastal seafood species and human health

New PhD project by Inneke Hantoro
The risk of microplastics in Indonesian coastal areas for coastal seafood species and human health.

Supervisors:
- Ansje Löhr, Ad Ragas and Frank van Belleghem, Open Universiteit, The Netherlands
- Budi Widianarko, Soegijapranata Catholic University, Semarang, Indonesia
'Plastic pollution in Indonesia and possible risks to coastal sea food species and human health'
A MST-NW seminar held on March 6th by Prof. dr. Budi Widianarko. Prof. dr. Budi Widianarko is a professor of Environmental Toxicology at the Graduate Program on Environment and Urban Studies, Soegijapranata Catholic University (SCU), Semarang – Indonesia. His teachings and research are centered around environmental and natural resources management, as well as food ecology and safety. Cooperation OU - USC. There is already a long term scientific collaboration between the Open University (OU) and the Soegijapranata Catholic University (USC). The collaboration focuses mainly on the field of environmental and urban studies. The last years there is a strong focus on the theme plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is worldwide recognized as one of the most serious environmental problems.

Article 'Microplastics in the Belgian North Sea' in June 2016 in NATUUR.FOCUS

Schnitzler N., Van Belleghem F. & Löhr A. 2016. Microplastics in the Belgian North Sea. An emerging threat for the marine fauna and ecosystems? Natuur.focus 15(2): 67-73 [in Dutch; with an English summary]

European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2016

Midst April 2016 we participated in this conference in Vienna with the presentation of a global modeling approach River export of plastic from land to sea.

Festival for Ocean Awareness

Festival for Ocean Awareness; an informal event organized by the Utrechtse Biologen Vereniging, 27th May 2016. Dr. Ansje Löhr was one of the speakers at the symposium part of the day.

Conference

Siegfried M., Gabbert S., Koelmans, A.A., Kroeze, C., Löhr, A. & Verburg, C. (2016) River Export of Plastic from Land to Sea: A Global Modeling Approach. Session HS5.10 Assessment and interpretation of state and trends in water quality EGU2016-11507.

Recent paper with colleagues from Wageningen University in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2016.

Global modelling of surface water quality: a multi-pollutant approach
Carolien Kroeze, Silke Gabbert, Nynke Hofstra, Albert A Koelmans, Ang Li, Ansje Löhr, Fulco Ludwig, Maryna Strokal, Charlotte Verburg, Lucie Vermeulen, Michelle TH van Vliet, Wim de Vries, Mengru Wang and Jikke van Wijnen In many world regions the availability of clean water is at risk.
Pollution of rivers and coastal seas poses a threat to aquatic ecosystems and society. Here, we review representative examples of mathematical models that simulate pollutant flows from land to sea at global and continental scales. We argue that a multi-pollutant modelling approach would help to better understand and manage water quality issues. Pollutants often have common sources and multiple impacts. Most existing spatially explicit models, however, focus on one type of pollution only. A new generation of models is needed to explicitly address the combined exposure of surface waters to multiple pollutants. Such models could serve as a basis for integrated water quantity and water quality assessments.

Research team

Ansje Löhr has a Master’s degree in Marine Biology (University of Groningen, NL) and a PhD degree in Ecotoxicology (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL). She is an assistant professor at the Department of Science at the faculty of Management, Science and Technology of the Open University of the Netherlands. Her teaching and research activities are within the research theme “Plastic environmental pollution” covering aspects of (marine) biology, (eco)toxicology, environmental science, integrated water management and learning for sustainable development. She is the project leader of the Massive Open Online Course on Marine litter which is developed in close cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML). Besides she is involved in (international) projects on competence based e-learning. The Soegijapranata Catholic University (Semarang, Indonesia), is one of the important research partners in the research theme Plastic environmental pollution.

Ad Ragas (1964) studied biology and obtained his PhD at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He currently holds a position as a full professor in Environmental Natural Sciences at the Open University in Heerlen (the Netherlands), and as an associate professor in Nijmegen. His main expertise is the modelling of human and ecological risks of chemicals, including (micro)plastics. Within this domain, his focus is on quantifying and assessing uncertainty. He played an active role in European research projects like NoMiracle and PHARMAS, and currently participates in i-PiE and MEDUWA; two large European research projects on the environmental risks of pharmaceuticals. He coordinates the MSc programme in Environmental Sciences at the Open University and teaches several academic courses on risk assessment, GIS and statistics. He chairs the Dutch scientific advisory committee on quality standards for air and water, and is a member of the working group on mixture assessment of the European Food & Safety Authority (EFSA).

Dr. F.G.A.J. (Frank) Van Belleghem is an environmental toxicologist and an assistant professor at the School of Science in the Faculty of Management, Science & Technology (MST) of the Open University of the Netherlands. His teaching activities are in the field of biology, biochemistry, (environmental) toxicology and environmental sciences. He has been involved in several research projects at Hasselt University (Belgium) on the molecular and cellular aspects of toxicity and on the effects of environmental stress on regeneration and stem cell dynamics of the flatworms Schmidtea mediterranea and Macrostomum lignano. His area of expertise covers toxicity of environmental pollutants including nanoparticles and microplastics, oxidative stress, carcinogenesis, neurotoxicity, regeneration and electron- and fluorescence microscopy.

Inneke Hantoro has her Master degree on Food Science (The University of Melbourne, Australia). She is a full time lecturer at the Department of Food Science, Soegijapranata Catholic University, Indonesia. Her teaching and research activities are in areas related to food safety and quality, such as toxicology and food safety, food quality assurance, and risk analysis courses. Currently, she is a PhD student at Department of Science, Faculty of Management, Science & Technology, Open Universiteit, the Netherlands. Her research is focused on the risk of microplastics in Indonesian coastal areas for coastal seafood species and human health.

Education

MSc projects

Current MSc projects:

Commercial Waste Management to Prevent Plastic Marine Litter Leakages into the Ocean?
An analysis of the current waste management system and future improvements for the city of Semarang, Indonesia.
Thesis committee
Dr. Ansje Löhr - first OU supervisor
Professor Dr. Ad Ragas - OU assessor
Advising roles:
Prof. Dr. Harold Krikke - OU
Prof. Dr. Budi Widianarko (Soegijapranata Catholic University)
Inneke Hantoro, MSc (Soegijapranata Catholic University)

Environmental impact of stabilizing layers beneath artificial turfs.
Thesis committee
At the Open Universiteit:
Dr. A.J. Löhr - first OU supervisor 
Prof. dr. A.M.J. Ragas - OU assessor
External supervisor at RIVM:
Dr. ir. A.J. Verschoor

Commercial waste management and closing the plastics supply chain loop to prevent plastic marine litter in Indonesia. An analysis of the current state of the commercial waste management system and incentives for businesses to close the plastic supply chain loop in order to prevent leakage of plastic into the ocean in the city of Semarang.

  1. Department of Science | Management, Science &Technology Open University
  2. Soegijapranata Catholic University, Indonesia

Milieueffecten van kunstgrasvelden

  1. Department of Science | Management, Science &Technology Open University
  2. Rijks Instituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) – National Institute for Public Health and the Environment

Recent MSC projects

2016, Charlotte Verburg, Wageningen University MSc internship
PLASTIC EXPORT FROM LAND TO SEA; Rivers as a source of plastic litter in coastal waters

  • Dr. A.J. Löhr Department of Science | Management, Science &Technology Open University
  • Prof. Dr. B. Widianarko Soegijapranata Catholic University, Indonesia
  • Prof. Dr. C. Kroeze Environmental Systems Analysis Science & Technology Group, Wageningen University

2015, Wilco Urgert, Microplastics in the rivers Meuse and Rhine. Developing guidance for a possible future monitoring program

  • dr. A.J. (Ansje) Löhr, Department of Science, Faculty of Management, Science & Technology, Open University
  • dr. F.G.A.J. (Frank) van Belleghem, Department of Science, Faculty of Management, Science & Technology, Open University
  • dr. G. (Gerard) Stroomberg, program manager operational water quality monitoring at Rijkswaterstaat, Lelystad
  • prof. dr. N.M. (Nico) van Straalen, Department of Ecological Science, Faculty of Earth And Life Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam
  • dr. ir. C.A.M. (Kees) van Gestel, Department of Ecological Science, Faculty of Earth And Life Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam
  • drs. P. (Pieter) Geluk, Department of Science, Faculty of Management, Science & Technology, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen

More than 2.500 participants for the Spanish-speaking MOOC on Marine Litter

More than 2.500 people worldwide registered for the Spanish-speaking Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Marine Litter of the Open University. The Course launched on 29 January 2018.

Marine Litter/Basura Marina Marina

The global pollution of seas and oceans by waste is a growing problem that requires a global approach. It is identified by the United Nations as one of the most important environmental problems of the 21st century. The plastic waste that ends up in the environment carries great risks. For example, it is harmful to organisms living in the sea, and there is increasing evidence that (micro-)plastics can enter our food chain through accumulation.

MOOC focused on Spanish-speaking world citizens

In recent years, UN Environment has been working on a global network for the prevention and management of marine waste. This led to the creation of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, in which the UN Environment and OU jointly developed an English-speaking MOOC Marine Litter in 2015.

The MOOC provides insight into the latest developments and provides guidance on how to map out and tackle the problem in the students own (working) environment.

After two successful runs with more than 9,000 participants, it was decided to offer the MOOC in Spanish as well.

Ansje Löhr, project leader: "We realized that more than 1 billion people are proficient in English. And that almost 500 million can speak Spanish. World citizens, who mostly live in countries with an immense coastline. Think not only of Spain and parts of the United States, but also Central America and the western part of South America."

Research on the impact of the MOOC

Researchers from the Science department of the Faculty of Management, Science & Technology have been involved for several years in research into the causes and effects of and solutions for plastic pollution, among others within the project Schone Maas Limburg and with research partners in Indonesia.

Ansje Löhr, project leader: "Of course as researchers, we are interested in how our education has been translated into specific social actions. In the summer of 2018, we expect to be able to report the lasting impact of the MOOC on local initiatives to combat this immense environmental problem."

Workshop plastic pollution at Clingendael Institute

Ansje Löhr and Frank Van Belleghem from the Faculty of Management, Science and Technology (MST) gave a workshop on plastic pollution in the oceans at the Netherlands Institute for International Relations Clingendael on 19 September 2017.

Marine pollution for small island states

18 Senior government officials from small island states participated in the workshop. During the workshop, attention was paid to the specific context of the issue of plastic marine pollution for small island states. Possible solutions to the problems were discussed with the participants.

The workshop was held as part of the Diplomatic Training Program for Small Island Developing States. This training program aims to "Blue Diplomacy: Enhancing sustainable economic development of the ocean" or how diplomats can contribute to the sustainable greening of blue oceans.

Ansje Löhr: "This workshop is a good fit in the collaboration with UN Environment and the research into plastic pollution within the faculty of MST. Excellent that we were able to give this workshop for a special target groupat an institute like Clingendael, with a name in the field of climate change and sustainable development."

About Clingendael

Clingendael, situated in the Hague, is a research institute that studies various aspects of international relations. The institute teaches many diplomats and government professionals, many of whom come from abroad.

May 2017: our second Massive Open Online Course on Marine Litter

To create global awareness, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with the Open University of the Netherlands, launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Marine Litter in 2015. This highly successful MOOC with more than 6.500 students enabled its participants to stimulate leadership and offered opportunities for actionable and change oriented learning related to marine litter within the framework of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter.

Because of its success, this free course was rolled out again.

This second Massive Open Online Course on Marine Litter (MOOC) aimed to help almost 3.000 students, through action learning, on ways to apply strategies in the real world. Moreover, this course assisted policymakers, practitioners, and managers who wish to connect with other professionals to enhance their knowledge of marine litter issues.

The MOOC was available in two tracks: a leadership track and an expert track. It started in May 2017 with the Leadership track taking place over a course of 2 weeks. Those students who wished to remain in the course continued to the Expert track, which was completed in July 2017 (total of 8 weeks).

A certificate of participation could be obtained by students after their completion of both the Leadership track and the Expert track. Students also received free access to all course materials on a 24-hour online platform.

Are you active on Facebook? You can still join the Facebook community.

Are you on Twitter. Follow our account to stay tuned for the announcements of the next enrolment data.

A new UN major global campaign

On February 23, UN environment launched a major global #CleanSeas campaign to end marine litter.

Massive Open Online Course on Marine Litter in 2015

In October 2015 the launch of the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Marine Litter took place. The Open University of the Netherlands developed the MOOC in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Are you active on Facebook? You can always join the Facebook community.

Praise for the master thesis Microplastics in the rivers Meuse and Rhine

Fall 2015 Wilco Urgent defended his thesis about Microplastics in the rivers Meuse and Rhine. This thesis was awarded with the prize for the best science research from members of the science community at the Open Universiteit Eureka! Festival. 29 November 2015 Ansje Löhr presented at the Eureka! Festival in Amsterdam within the context of the Dutch National Research Agenda 'Plastics in the environment address worldwide'.

Education team

Ansje Löhr has a Master’s degree in Marine Biology (University of Groningen, NL) and a PhD degree in Ecotoxicology (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL). She is an assistant professor at the Department of Science at the faculty of Management, Science and Technology of the Open University of the Netherlands. Her teaching and research activities are within the research theme “Plastic environmental pollution” covering aspects of (marine) biology, (eco)toxicology, environmental science, integrated water management and learning for sustainable development. She is the project leader of the Massive Open Online Course on Marine litter which is developed in close cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML). Besides she is involved in (international) projects on competence based e-learning. The Soegijapranata Catholic University (Semarang, Indonesia), is one of the important research partners in the research theme Plastic environmental pollution.

Ad Ragas (1964) studied biology and obtained his PhD at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He currently holds a position as a full professor in Environmental Natural Sciences at the Open University in Heerlen (the Netherlands), and as an associate professor in Nijmegen. His main expertise is the modelling of human and ecological risks of chemicals, including (micro)plastics. Within this domain, his focus is on quantifying and assessing uncertainty. He played an active role in European research projects like NoMiracle and PHARMAS, and currently participates in i-PiE and MEDUWA; two large European research projects on the environmental risks of pharmaceuticals. He coordinates the MSc programme in Environmental Sciences at the Open University and teaches several academic courses on risk assessment, GIS and statistics. He chairs the Dutch scientific advisory committee on quality standards for air and water, and is a member of the working group on mixture assessment of the European Food & Safety Authority (EFSA).

Collaboration

Thriving Societies, Healthy Waters

Within the framework of the project 'Thriving Societies, Healthy Waters. An interdisciplinary approach to achieve water-driven socio-ecological resilience in Indonesia' the Department of Science from the faculty of Management Science and Technology organized two workshops together with the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies - Institute for Science in Society (ISIS) - Radboud University Nijmegen-, Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), The Soegijapranata Catholic University, the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) and DELTARES.

The workshops focussed on a number of selected so-called wicked (difficult to address and solve) socio-ecological issues; the often unintended and unanticipated causes and consequences of the introduction, use and disposal of plastic waste (including micro-plastics) and antibiotics.

The aim of this project is to strengthen - through close cooperation with societal stakeholders - the capabilities of science and society to address one of the most persistent socio-ecological challenges in Indonesia, i.e. to avoid water pollution, to guarantee everyone access to clean drinking water, and to avert the emergence and spread of water related diseases.

Visit with Dutch-Indonesian research team to waste recylcing company Circulus-Berkel B.V in may 2018.

Partners and projects

Plastic waste in the aquatic environment can vary greatly in size, i.e. from the nanometre to the meter scale. The larger macro plastics are mainly associated with visual pollution and forms of physical stress (e.g. entanglement and blocking of inlets), whereas the smaller micro plastics are mainly associated with food chain accumulation and toxic effects. Macro plastics typically originate from dumping, littering and wind dispersal, whereas micro plastics typically originate from the degradation of macro plastics and specific applications, e.g. micro beads in medicines and personal care products.

The need to address plastic pollution in aquatic environments has been recognized worldwide, e.g. in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Honolulu Strategy. The Department of Science cooperates with several organizations. Research topics focus on micro- and macroplastics pollution in rivers and seas and include detection methods, modelling, effects and preventive measures.

Global Partnership on Marine Litter

The Faculty of Management, Science & Technology of the Open University of The Netherlands is part of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML), a global community of stakeholders dedicated to reducing the sources and impacts of marine litter worldwide.

Current research partners