Tid(y)Up: F(ol)low the Plastic from source to the sea: Tisa-Danube integrated action plan to eliminate plastic pollution of rivers

© BOKU-Mayerhofer

Despite the advanced waste management and ambitious recycling objectives of the EU, studies indicate the presence of plastic and microplastic pollution in rivers of CE. From a water quality perspective, it is a challenge to prevent this new threat. For this reason, Tid(y)Up project - co-financed by the EU in frame of the Danube Transnational Programme from ERDF - is focusing on the improvement of water quality and reduction of plastic pollution of the Tisa river from its source to the Black Sea.

Currently there are no standard methods and consistent data available on plastic pollution of rivers in the Danube Basin that would help harmonized actions of water management authorities and allow cooperation with other sectors necessary to stop the pollution. Within the project partners develop and launch a set of integrated actions, consult and provide tools for relevant stakeholders and initiate long term transboundary and intersectoral cooperation with the aim of eliminating the plastic pollution of rivers.

The project operates with a list of diverse tools including scientific actions to standardize methods for estimation of the size of pollution, formulating recommendations toward a standardized measurement and analysing method, on-site expeditions, pilot-actions for identification and clean-up of polluted areas and sources, development of an online "pollution map" to localise hotspots as well as education and awareness raising actions for the prevention. The novelty of the project is that it provides tools, data and the assessment of various used methodology for understanding of the sources, nature and risks of contamination flows; and delivers practical examples of possible actions and legislative solutions both on local and transnational level.


Project partners: consortium of 8 partners (Environmental authorities, NGOs, Universities and research facilities) from seven countries
Co-funding by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism (BMLRT) and the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK).


Contact: DI Gudrun Obersteiner

PlasticFreeDanube – Macro plastic waste in and along the Danube river

Plastics can be found in almost all areas of life, which is reflected in the continuing global demand for the material. However, the increasing production also increase the input of plastics into the environment. The pollution of the oceans by plastic waste is currently one of the greatest global challenges. Estimates suggest that up to 80% of marine waste comes from land-based sources and is primarily discharged via rivers. However, the sources and origins of plastic waste as well as transport routes and environmental impacts in fluvial systems are still insufficiently researched.

The cross-boarder project "PlasticFreeDanube" (financed by European Union subsidies within the framework of Interreg Slovakia-Austria) starts here with the development of a sound knowledge base on the occurrence and composition of macro plastic waste (>5mm) in and along the Danube. In addition, the analysis of transport behaviour, the retention potential of hydropower plants and environmental influences are in focus. A material flow analysis incorporates the generated data on the origin, quantities and composition of the plastic waste. The results are also used as a basis for prevention measures. In addition to education and training materials to raise awareness, a communication and information platform https://plasticfreeconnected.com/ serves to disseminate the findings. Derived recommendations and suggestions for improvement result in an action plan for political and strategic decision makers.

Project partners: ABF-BOKU, IWA-BOKU, viadonau, Donau-Auen Nationalpark, RepaNet, Polymer Instiute SAS

Homepage: https://plasticfreeconnected.com/plasticfreedanube

Contact: DI Gudrun Obersteiner

CEWA - Circular Economy of Waste

The 3-year CEWA project aims at finding an innovative approach to waste management with a focus on applicability in the Czech and Austrian border regions. The main output of the project is a strategy to support the objectives of the circular economy. Thematically, this project focuses on food waste, electric and electronic equipment and littering.

The Institute of Waste Management will carry out a representative survey of food waste in households in order to identify reasons for disposal and to develop targeted prevention measures. In addition, the potential of electrical appliances that are no longer used and stored in households although they are still functioning and could be considered for reuse is being surveyed. It will also be examined what happens to waste electric and electronic equipment collected in the context of 1:1 take-back systems and generated in large companies in order to explore re-use potentials.

These project results will be presented in a bilingual summary report based on theoretical studies, analyses, pilot studies and practical tests.

Further information on this project can be found here [https://www.at-cz.eu/at/ibox/pa-2-umwelt-und-ressourcen/atcz205_cewa]

Project partners: Energy Agency Vysočina (lead partner), Association of Municipal Services in Třebíč, City of Prachatice, Municipal Association for Waste Management and Dues Waidhofen/Thaya, ABF-BOKU

Project duration: 01/2020 - 12/2022

Contact: Dipl.Ing. Gudrun Obersteiner

Urban pop-up housing environments and their potential as local innovation systems

The need for temporary housing particularly in urban environments is expected to increase dramatically. To address these urgent demands, it is important to find affordable and flexible but sustainable and reusable concepts that are easy to construct and rapid to implement. However, to go one step further, temporary housing will be conceptualized as local innovation systems. In this respect, this project, funded by the WWTF, focuses on an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach to systematically investigate and evaluate existing temporary housing options, and to create holistic, innovative and sustainable models for pop-up living systems in urban environments. Methods from urban and landscape planning, architecture and building systems technologies are interlinked to resource related disciplines such as energy optimization, green technologies, sustainable waste management, water supply and wastewater treatment as well as social and political sciences. Diverse modelling approaches are integrated into a cross-disciplinary model and subsequent scenarios of pop-up housing environments are developed for different target groups and types of urban spaces. Risk assessment approaches as well as energy and life-cycle-assessments are applied to evaluate the housing models. This research clearly goes beyond state-of-the-art, since for the first time a systemic modelling approach is applied to develop high-quality and sustainable temporary housing environments as innovation niches within urban systems.

Project duration: April 2018 – March 2021

Further project information: popupenvironments.boku.ac.at

Contact at ABF-BOKU:
Marion Huber-Humer (project coordination): marion.huber-humer(at)boku.ac.at
Julia Zeilinger: julia.zeilinger(at)boku.ac.at

Plastic Pirates – Go Europe!

a Citizen Science Initiative to study plastic pollution in rivers

The pollution of beaches and riverbanks in Europe with plastic waste does not stop at borders. Avoiding micro- and macroplastics in the environment, the scientific classification of this challenge and research into sustainable materials are therefore tasks on which we must work together throughout Europe.

Plastic Pirates - Go Europe! was first developed as Plastic Pirates in Germany in 2016. Since January 2022, with the support of the EU Commission, the initiative has been extended to all of Europe as a European citizen science action, where school classes and youth groups (young people aged 10-16) collect plastic samples from streams and rivers and document their findings. The data collected across Europe is entered into a database and then analyzed by scientists*.
Young people who are interested in science and the environment are thus given the opportunity to participate in practical research. They make an important contribution to research into the state of European rivers and the extent and pollution caused by plastic waste.

As part of the project, the types of waste identified by each group (e.g. cigarette butts, pieces of foil or packaging) are recorded on a suitable riverbank or stream with the help of detailed action materials and subsequently published on a digital map. The data collected by the young people will then help the scientific community to gradually close existing research gaps on the occurrence, composition and generation of plastic waste.

Interested school classes and youth groups are invited to participate in the initiative.

Homepage: https://www.plastic-pirates.eu/at

Contact: DI Dr. Gudrun Obersteiner
Email: plastic.pirates(at)boku.ac.at


The REWIN project is aimed at shutting down material cycles in the production and recycling of electronic products in the People's Republic of China. For this purpose, a waste detection system will be developed and established in a first step. This is of particular importance in order to obtain more accurate information on quantities and qualities of production waste from this sector. As a second step, a secondary materials exchange will be set up where supply and demand can be matched. Based on the data from the waste detection system, potentials for increasing resource efficiency are identified (eg by reducing waste and other losses, increased use of secondary materials) and presented using best-practice examples. As a contribution to the overarching goal of cycle closure, recycling technology for WEEE will also be optimized and options for recycling-friendly design (design for recycling) will be explored. These activities are accompanied by training and education programs for manufacturers, recyclers and authorities. Kontakt: Ao.Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Stefan Salhofer

FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising waste prevention Strategies)

Efficient use of resources and a significant reduction of food waste along the value chain from field to plate. That is the goal of FUSIONS, a 4-year European FP7 project that unites universities, knowledge institutions, consumer organizations and corporations. The ambition is to avoid food waste by stimulating social innovation in case studies, the evaluation of methods for monitoring and the development of guidelines for national as well as EU policy-makers. Homepage: http://www.eu-fusions.org

FUSIONS on Facebook Contact: Dipl.-Ing. Gudrun Obersteiner