Worldwide, eight million tons of Plastic end up in the ocean every year, despite greater awareness of recycling and the use of disposable plastic.” Actions to clean up plastic don’t do much good if you don’t deal with the sources of the plastic at the same time,” says PhD candidate Christina Hellevik.
Hellevik is one of the researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Ålesund who is working to create a model that will show where plastic collects and determine where in the region it comes from. The researchers are collaborating with the Ålesund region’s Port Authority, Ålesund municipality.
In the past, clean-up operations have weighed and photographed the waste afterwards, without being able to register it in detail and efficiently. The researchers are in the process of developing the database for the app and are collaborating with students who are doing a master’s program in simulation and visualization at NTNU in Ålesund.
Around 100 people will test the app when they are out on clean-up actions in the future, and the team includes the Norwegian Center for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment, Runde Environmental Center and volunteer organizations. The technology will become widely available starting in the spring of 2022, and anyone will be able to take a picture of plastic articles and get information.
The goal is for the app to help predict which areas are magnets for plastic pollution and where it comes from, and to facilitate better grounds for decision-making for the municipality and the port authority. Recently, a particular type of waste has been cropping up. Activists all over the world have registered an increase in waste that can be traced to disposable plastic products from infection control.