The project “Pescadors de plàstic” confirms, for another year, the high presence of disposable plastics in Catalan rivers

This year, data was collected from 34 stretches of river in the Fluvià, Besòs, Ter and Tordera river basins

A total of 700 students from 25 schools and colleges in Catalonia have participated this year in the citizen science project Pescadors de Plàstic, led by researchers from the BETA Technology Centre of the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC). For the fourth consecutive year, this project has enabled young people to take part in a scientific study on the presence and typology of plastic waste in Catalan rivers.

This year, data was collected from 34 stretches of river in the Fluvià, Besòs, Ter and Tordera river basins. Following the line of previous editions, the data provided by the students reinforces that, by typology, around half of the waste found in Catalan rivers is plastic waste. Metal cans, glass, textile waste and cigarette butts are less common.

89%, disposable plastics

Of the total plastic waste identified this year, 89% corresponds to disposable plastics, results that reinforce the line of previous years. In this case it is mainly bags, bottles and sanitary towels. In some specific points, single-use wipes may have a very prominent presence, as already shown by the results of Plastic Pirates, another European citizen science project with similar objectives, also coordinated by CT BETA in Spain.

With the data collected in this fourth edition, the BETA TC researchers have been able to confirm that there are some constant patterns over the years, both in terms of the amount of plastic waste found and the percentage of disposable plastic waste found in the rivers under study. One of the conclusions of the participating students was that leisure activities near the river are one of the main sources of this waste, without losing sight of factors such as proximity to urban centres or transport infrastructures.

A project for researchers and students

“Pescadors de Plàstic” is an initiative that combines two aspects. On the one hand, researchers at the BETA Technology Centre can obtain data on the presence and typology of plastic waste in different rivers in Catalonia. On the other hand, students are introduced to the scientific method, learning field work methodologies and data analysis, while at the same time becoming aware of the environmental problems of plastic waste in the river.

“Pescadors de Plàstic” is inspired by long-term citizen science projects developed in Chile (Científicos de la Basura) and Germany (Plastic Pirates), with which a close collaboration has been established. This project has been made possible thanks to funding from the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology – Ministry of Science and Innovation.