Waste collection rivers: monitoring micro- and macroplastics

Ministerie of Infrastructure and Watermanagement is developing a reliable, effective and efficient monitoring programme for a micro- and macroplastics monitoring system.

The basis for configuration of this system is research in the 3 compartments of the river: the banks, water surface and water column. Rijkswaterstaat does this on the basis of (pilot) projects in which measurement techniques are developed and reviewed, such as manual counting and visual observations from bridges. 

We are also investigating the use of innovative measurement technologies. As these monitoring systems are new, it is important that they are reliable and validated. The project started in 2020. First results will be in 2024.

Micro- and macroplastics pollution

Litter in and alongside rivers is a big problem. Micro- and macroplastics pollute the river water, bed and banks, cause clean-up costs and are a hazard to public health and the ecosystem. Plastic also flows from rivers into the sea, and therefore contributes to further pollution of seas and oceans.

Better understanding of these problems and their extent demands quantitative and qualitative research (monitoring). Monitoring gives insights, gives answers to policy questions and management questions and forms the basis for taking appropriate measures.

Research in 3 areas

The pilot projects, desk studies and projects enhance knowledge for Rijkswaterstaat. On the one hand on the methods for quantifying litter and macroplastics. These techniques will be applied and improved up to and including 2025.

To be able to make a recommendation, research will be carried out in 3 key areas. The key areas are: litter on riverbanks, floating litter and litter in the water column. On the other hand, it also boosts knowledge on the behaviour of litter in the rivers and the effect that hydrology has on this.

Project period

2019 - 2025

European programme

European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund

Project website

European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund


Within the project, we work together with consultancies, NGOs and research institutes.