Blog: International Workshop on Marine Debris and Microplastic Pollution

Our partner and chief scientist Andy Booth from SINTEF Ocean attended the International workshop on Marine Debris and Microplastic pollution in Kerala, India, where over 50 PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and scientists from across India participated, showing how quickly this research field is developing in India.

| August 17th, 2023 | news

By Andy Booth, Chief Scientist at SINTEF Ocean

 

From 29th – 31st May 2023, an International Workshop on Marine Debris and Microplastic Pollution took place in Thiruvananthapuram in the Indian state of Kerala. Over 50 PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, and scientists from across the whole of India travelled to Thiruvananthapuram to participate in the workshop, organised by the University of Kerala in association with the Suganthi Devadason Marine research Institute (SDMRI), and with support from the EU project ECOMARINE, showing how quickly this research field is developing in India.

I have been collaborating for a number of years with SDMRI in microplastic research and had the honour of being invited to present a number of keynote sessions on topics relating to microplastic pollution.

 

Tyre wear particles (TWP) to become major source of microplastic pollution

Over the course of the 3-day workshop, I presented on the topics of microplastic toxicity, environmental degradation, and plastic pollution monitoring. As part of these presentations, we looked at microplastic in general, a key pollutant group being studied within SOS-ZEROPOL2030, as well as specific types and sources of microplastic. This included car tyres, which are a source of tyre wear particles (TWPs) to the environment, and which are one of the case study pollutants in SOS-ZERPOL2030. With car ownership increasing significantly in the most populous country on Earth, TWPs have the potential to become a major source of environmental pollution in India.

 

World Café

On the final day of the workshop, I also hosted a World Café with all the participants. The session aimed to get the participants to think about the current state of microplastic pollution in India and to identify how researchers in India can lead efforts to combat microplastic pollution moving forward. In small groups, participants discussed what are currently the most pressing issues in marine litter and microplastic research, how researchers can collaborate with each other and with different stakeholder groups in India to reduce (micro)plastic emissions to the marine environment, and where the participants would like to see India in 30 years’ time.

 

International collaboration as a key foundation

During the trip, I had the opportunity to also meet with officials representing the southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In these discussions we talked about the ongoing research and mitigation initiatives the governments in these states have established and what could be done further moving forward. It was clear that everyone viewed international collaboration as a key foundation for knowledge generation and sharing towards reducing plastic and microplastic emissions and impacts. Importantly, public communication and engagement is seen as critical for meaningful change to be made.

The universities and research institutes in India are actively working with national and local government bodies to raise the issue of plastic pollution within the wider population and ensure that more people can make informed decisions about their plastic use and disposal. There is a long way to go to solve this complex societal challenge, but the issue of plastic pollution is high on the agenda in many countries, including India, and progress is definitely being made!

news

Second Living Lab focuses on strategies for better governance of PFAS
Hosted by partner Black Sea NGO Network, the workshop called ‘Designing strategies for better governance of persistent chemicals in the Black Sea basin’, brought together stakeholders from several countries in the region. These represented research institutes, government bodies, industries and NGOs, who worked together to explore the opportunities for reducing the load of a specific […]
SOS-ZEROPOL2030 organised its first living lab
Discussions focused on two distinct groups of PFAS used in the production process and in medical products: Fluoropolymers used in products including medical textiles, implants, tubes, catheters, diagnostic laboratory tests, and F-gases used in products such as anaesthetics and inhalers. The event created a dynamic space for the participants to come together, following the principles […]
New SOS-ZEROPOL2030 report: The EU Governance Landscape For Zero Marine Pollution
This report is the second deliverable coming out of Work Package 2, which looks at the building blocks for zero pollution governance and provides an overview of Zero Pollution governance in the EU. The first report: The EU Zero Pollution Ambition was published in May 2023, and gains insight into the feasibility of the EUs […]