Litter vs. plastic pollution
Litter is solid waste dumped or carried into the environment by wrong disposal, loss or weather events such as wind and rain. Despite being an ugly sight litter can be very harmful, especially if it doesn't biodegrade.
Plastic is a very stable material and persists in the environment for many centuries. Unlike glass or metals, plastic is a synthetic material containing many toxic substances, which cling to it forever. Studies have proven that plastic is ingested by
animals, thus entering our food chain.
When plastic breaks down into microplastic it gets even more difficult to collect and it disperses into the waterways, oceans or landscapes where it has harmful impacts.
The SLR focuses on plastic because of its obvious negative effects on the ecosystem. Yet, the SLR does include in its findings other categories of litter from anthropogenic materials such as glass and metals.
Litter is visible everywhere and the majority of citizens are aware of the problem. Yet we live in times where the obvious is not enough. We need to prove with numbers that a problem exists and that it is harming not only the environment but us.
The SLR report is designed to demonstrate, quantify and analyze the litter problem we have in Switzerland. The SLR data collection is based on a globally acknowledged method developed by the EEA -
European Environment Agency.
Trained volunteers will collect all litter from 50 defined shorelines once a month. All items found during a total of 600 collections are laid out, counted, recounted, photo-graphed, classified and published into the online database of
Marine Litter Watch.
The method will allow us to compare Swiss data to other countries and help complete the findings about plastic pollution in Europe so far.
Hammerdirt Association is involved in training, monitoring and advising the collections. They have methodological experience from litter collection
projects at Lake Geneva.