Blue Lakes: “No micro-plastics, just waves”

The idea of a Blue lakes project was instigated by the NGO Legambiente in Italy. Other Italian NGOs followed along with two German groups, including Global Nature Fund.

The Project was subsequently funded through LIFE and the Plastics Europe. Their aim has been to reduce and perhaps even avoid entirely micro-plastics pollution in lakes. Taking an integrated approach, the facets of the project included:

  • Working with Municipalities in order to reduce plastic usage and waste;
  • Working with companies who could i.e. use alternative materials;
  • Promoting additional treatments stages in waste water treatment plants to remove micro-plastics; and to
  • Raise awareness amongst citizens and those responsible for the use of plastic products.

The five pilot lake catchments in Germany and Italy in the framework of the project are Lake Constance and Chiemsee in Germany and lakes Trasimeno, Garda and Bracciano in Italy.

The project has not only supported the local authorities in those areas with tools and information for them to effect appropriate policies and actions,  but have also developed a Lakes Charter seeking voluntary commitments to adopt methods to reduce and avoid micro-plastic release to lakes and heir watersheds.

Further, there has been a technical protocol developed for managers and technical advisers on the improvement measures that can be implemented at waste water treatment plants. At the project management level, all the partners have developed working relationships with the key relevant industries: principally, tyre, cosmetic and outdoor industry, with a view to identifying further measures that can be taken. At the political level, influence is being levied to improve the legal framework and public awareness significantly elevated.

Bespoke designed trawl nets take surface water samples for micro-plastic sampling and identification of lake surface waters. Lago Bracciano.

LIFE: The European Union’s LIFE programme supported Blue Lakes and contributes to the implementation, updating and further development of the EU policy and legislation on the environment and climate. Through the LIFE programme, the EU co-funds innovative projects that demonstrate the effectiveness of new techniques and methods in the environmental field.

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