Hull researchers head to the Mekong to tackle plastic pollution

Environment Journal –

The Mekong River in Southeast Asia is one of the world’s great waterways, fertile and ecologically diverse with millions relying on it for their food, but it’s increasingly clogged with plastic pollution.

To help address the mounting problem, a team of researchers from the University of Hull are documenting how plastic travels down the river, from Laos to Vietnam and into the ocean.

Called ‘River of Plastic’ it is the first study systematic study of plastic transportation in the mega-river. Previous research has shown that the top 10 most polluting rivers contribute the majority of the plastic that ends up in the world’s oceans.

Researchers hope to use the data to develop new models that predict the distribution of plastic waste in rivers and as it enters the ocean. They say this will be crucial for future predicting how plastic travels through global rivers systems as well as how different sources of plastic enters the marine environment.

As well as looking at plastic transportation, the team will also help local communities across the Mekong Basin produce their own videos and messages which will capture their relationship with plastic.

Dr Chris Hackney from the University of Hull said: ‘Different plastics have different densities, although currently unquantified, this results in plastic being transported at different depths in rivers, and ultimately oceans.

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