A lot of waste - particularly plastic waste – is slowly building up in the Arctic. This waste is harmful to wildlife and to the sensitive Arctic environment in general. Eelco Leemans (expert in the field of the sustainable use of the seas) and Wouter Jan Strietman (Wageningen Economic Research) will be setting off on 20 May 2017 for the island of Jan Mayen and Svalbard in order to investigate the quantity and type of waste on the beaches there, and to determine its sources. This is necessary in order to devise strategies for tackling the problem.
The plastic soup is gaining a lot of public attention. Even in the remote Arctic islands of Jan Mayen and Svalbard, annual beach cleanups show that plastic waste is building up in these areas. Recently, research has been published which shows that at least a significant part of this waste originates from European and North American waters. However, little is known about the specific sources of waste on beaches in the Arctic region.
During the expedition, the researchers will analyse what type of waste is found on the beaches and what its sources are. They will return to the Netherlands on 10 June and will then work with other stakeholders to define strategies on the basis of their findings. With this project, the aim is to contribute to reducing the amount of waste in this vulnerable Arctic region.
Before, during and after the expedition, Leemans and Strietman will keep a blog reporting on their experiences and results. The expedition is made possible with the support of Oceanwide Expeditions and the Dutch government.
The blogs can be found on the Wageningen University & Research blog platform: https://weblog.wur.eu/coastsea/.