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Svalbard beaches: garbage from Germany discovered in the Artis


A bottle from the 1960s is the oldest piece identified: researchers have examined plastic waste in the Arctic. The waste comes from all over the world, including Germany.

Enlarge image

Plastic waste on a remote beach in northern Spitsbergen

Photo: Ashley Cooper / Nature Picture Library / IMAGO

The earth is polluted with garbage - according to a study, even in the Arctic there is garbage from all over the world.

The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven announced that plastic and other waste from Germany was also getting into the Arctic Ocean. 

The majority of the total waste found goes back to fishing and shipping, it said.

"Plastic waste gets into the sea locally from ships and from arctic settlements," explained Anna Natalie Meyer, first author of the study, according to the statement.

From afar, plastic waste and microplastics are transported to the Arctic Ocean via numerous rivers and ocean currents from the Atlantic, North Sea and North Pacific.

About a third of the clearly identifiable waste comes from Europe, a large part from Germany, according to the specialist team.

"Plastic waste is a global problem that does not spare the seemingly untouched wilderness of the far north," according to the AWI.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

1.62 tons of garbage

For the survey, tourists collected rubbish when going ashore on 14 remote arctic beaches.

From 2016 to 2021, 23,000 parts that weighed 1.62 tons came together.

80 percent of the waste collected is plastic waste.

The exact origin of most of the waste could no longer be determined.

"Because of the cold, plastic in polar regions probably decomposes even faster into smaller fragments," says AWI scientist Melanie Bergmann.

According to the three researchers involved, the oldest identified object was a bottle fragment from Norway, probably produced in the 1960s.

The most recent items included a shoe from Germany from 2012/2013.

Eight percent came from Germany

Overall, the scientists found inscriptions or imprints on about one percent of the rubbish (206 pieces) that suggested its origin.

The majority of these parts came from countries bordering the Arctic such as Russia (32 percent) and Norway (16 percent).

But even from distant countries like Brazil, China and the USA pieces of garbage were detected.

Waste from Germany accounted for 8 percent of the identifiable parts.

"Against the background that Germany is the European champion both in plastic production and in waste exports, this relatively high contribution seems less surprising," said Bergmann.

The scientists demand that there must be better waste management, especially on ships and in fisheries.

"At least as important is the massive reduction in global plastic production, especially in the industrialized nations of Europe, North America and Asia," says the researcher.


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2023-02-07

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