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Microplastics in Rivers and Lakes

LimnoPlast ‒ a European Project on Plastic Litter in Fresh Water

Microplastics and plastics are widespread in the environment. However, it is still largely unknown where the small particles and fibers come from and what effects they have on freshwater systems. This is why the LimnoPlast project was launched on 1st November, in which 13 European project partners cooperate within the topic. The project is funded by the EU from the Horizon 2020 program for four years with almost 4.1 million euros and offers doctoral students an interesting working environment.

  • Microplastics on the French Atlantic coast in autumn 2019 (© Fraunhofer Umsicht/Leandra Hamann)

  • The project participants at the Kick-Off Meeting at the University of Bayreuth (© Jürgen Rennecke)

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Most plastics are produced and used inland. This is why a large proportion of the emissions are generated in the country and they might end up in rivers and lakes. In contrast to microplastics in the sea, the quantities, distribution and effects of plastic particles and fibers in freshwater ecosystems have not yet been well researched. To deal with this, the LimnoPlast project combines research approaches from natural and social sciences with environmental engineering solutions in order to answer the open questions holistically.

New Positions for Doctoral Students

Over the next few years, fifteen interdisciplinary doctoral students from the fields of polymer and engineering sciences, toxicology and ecology, environmental, social and legal sciences and psychology will be enabled to answer central questions about the origin, distribution and effects of microplastics in freshwater systems. Exemplary case studies will explore the freshwater ecosystems around the three urban areas of Aarhus, Amsterdam and Paris.

In addition, innovative technologies, alternative materials and awareness-raising measures to reduce microplastics will be developed and applied. LimnoPlast is the first European project to systematically combine natural, environmental, technical and social sciences in the field of microplastic research.

Fraunhofer Umsicht, in cooperation with the University of Plymouth, is also supervising a doctoral student on the socio-ecological evaluation of microplastics. A major goal of the work is to consider and analyze consumer behavior in the ecological risk assessment of microplastic emissions. Young, foreign researchers can apply from now on.

European Cooperation

Together with the 13 European project partners, who are directly involved in the scientific promotion and support of doctoral candidates, a further eleven partner organizations from science and industry are involved in the project. Fraunhofer Umsicht has excellent expertise in ecological evaluation and makes a contribution to the Limnoplast project with regard to the socio-ecological evaluation of microplastics, taking into account the needs of a future European circular economy for plastics.

In addition to scientific events, e.g. on the toxicology of microplastics and the detection of microplastic particles in the environment, training units on the topic of "transferable and soft skills" and information on the numerous career opportunities are offered. Evonik and BASF invite participants to workshops on "Innovation and Entrepreneurship". The Federal Institute of Hydrology, the Federal Environment Agency, the DIN Institute and UNESCO present job opportunities in the public sector. PlasticsEurope organizes an "Industry Day" and provides information on career opportunities in industry, while the PlasticSoupFoundation provides insights into the work of a non-governmental organization.

The project is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program.

Additional information
  • 10-21-2019

    Plastic Waste Worldwide

    New Study Presents Preliminary Baseline Figures

    In order to optimize the flows of material, the volumes of material flows as well as leakage into the environment need to be known. For the first time, a pilot study provides an overview of dozens of countries.   more

  • 05-16-2019

    Biodegradable Plastic under Maritime Conditions

    Contributing to Keeping Plastic Garbage out of Our Seas

    Researchers develop bio-based plastics that directly biodegrade in the sea. These materials would be utilized as an alternative to products whose entry into the sea cannot always be avoided, e.g. products utilized by fisheries in their everyday activities.   more

  • 01-16-2019

    Global Alliance to End Plastic Waste

    BASF Is Founder Member

    The company supports the Alliance to End Plastic Waste to drive solutions that help to solve the world’s plastic waste problem.   more

Company profile

Fraunhofer-Institut für Umwelt-, Sicherheits- und Energietechnik UMSICHT

An der Maxhütte 1
DE 92237 Sulzbach-Rosenberg
Tel.: 09661 908-400


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