HOW

HOW WE REACH OUR OBJECTIVES

Many initiatives and ideas are born from the will to find solutions to stop this environmental, human and economic disaster, such as OSPAR Commission and Barcelona Convention.

Nevertheless, the scientific world does not have enough qualified and standardized data to fully understand how plastic litter interacts with the natural environment and our health.

THE OSPAR GUIDELINE

Protecting and conserving the North-East Atlantic and its resources.

OSPAR Commission
OSPAR LOGO

OSPAR is the mechanism by which 15 Governments and the EU cooperate to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic.

OSPAR Maritime Area and its Regions
OSPAR Maritime Area and its Regions

A guideline for monitoring marine litter on beaches has been developed by OSPAR as a tool to collect data on litter in the marine environment.  This tool has been designed to generate data on marine litter according to a standardized methodology.

In particular, it is based on this protocol that we collect marine litters by taking photos and recording, in a database, the various data collected in the field. This qualified data is synchronize and transmited to scientific partners via a secured server.  Samples are sent to scientists to be analysed; results are input in the database.

Throughout and at the end of the four years of collection and analysis, the results are compiled in order to lead to the publication of complete studies, making it possible to plan new preventive strategies in the design of plastic materials.

THE OSPAR REQUIREMENTS

MARINE LITTER
A DEFINITION

Marine litter (marine debris) is any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material discarded, disposed of, abandoned or lost in the marine and coastal environment” (UNEP Regional Seas Programme (2005) : Marine Litter – An analytical overview).  This also includes such items entering the marine environment via rivers, sewage outlets, storm water outlets or winds.

MONITORING MARINE LITTER ON BEACHES

The collection of data on marine beach litter provides information on amounts, trends and sources of marine litter.  This information can be used to focus on effective mitigating measures and to test the effectiveness of existing legislation and regulations.  The ultimate aim is that the amount of litter entering the marine environment is minimised, has to be regularly updated.

MONITORING METHODOLOGY

The following criterias have been identified for selecting reference beaches.
Preferably, the beaches should:

  1. be composed of sand or gravel and exposed to the open sea;
  2. be accessible to surveyors all year round;
  3. be accessible for ease of marine litter removal;
  4. be a minimum length of 100 metres and if possible over 1 km in length;
  5. be free of ‘buildings’ all year round;
  6. ideally not be subject to any other litter collection activities.

COLLECTION AND IDENTIFICATION OF LITTER

The following pollutants are listed:

  • Plastic // Polystyrene Rubber
  • Cloth
  • Paper // Cardboard
  • Wood (machined)
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Pottery // Ceramics
  • Sanitary waste
  • Medical waste
  • Faeces
  • Other pollutants

SAMPLING UNITS

Once a beach is chosen sampling units can be identified.

A sampling unit is a fixed section of beach covering the whole area between the water edge to the back of the beach.

Two sampling units are used within the OSPAR area:

  • 100 metres: for identifying all marine litter items;
  • 1 km: for identifying objects generally larger than 50 cm.

BEACH SURVEYS

The reference beaches are surveyed 4 times a year:

1. Winter: Mid-December to Mid-January
2. Spring: April
3. Summer: Mid-June to Mid-July
4. Autumn: Mid-September to Mid-October

However, circumstances may lead to inaccessible and unsafe situations for surveyors: heavy winds, slippery rocks and hazards such as rain, snow or ice, etc.  The safety of the surveyors must always come first.

THE RIVER PROTOCOL

At present, in Europe, there is no standardized method for characterizing waste on land, including rivers.

Two Spanish NGOs, Vertidos Cero and Paisaje Limpio, have developed a research project to tackle the problem of abandoned waste on land, adapting the OSPAR marine litter protocol on beaches to land environment.  A mobile application — named eLitter — has been developed to manage the sampling collection.

LAND MONITORING

Sampling areas are selected such as:

  • Open areas (polygons, parkings, vacant lots, recreational areas, natural areas).
  • Linear areas (roads, paths, riverbeds, river banks).
  • Rivers  (floating waste in a river).

COLLECTION AND CLASSIFICATION

The following litter is collected and classified by:

  • Plastic
  • Paper / Cardboard
  • Wood (worked)
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Electric devices and battery
  • Sanitary waste
  • Sanitary devices
  • Medical waste
  • Others

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