PISCES Partnership‘s first paper on riverbanks as a source of marine plastic pollution is out! Free download available now.

Our study presents the first comprehensive analysis of anthropogenic debris on the riverbanks of the largest and most densely populated river in Java, highlighting multiple riverbank locations as significant sources ( up to 18 tonnes annually) of macro debris entering Jakarta bay.

Cutting through the capital city of Indonesia, the banks of the Ciliwung is home to over 270 endemic species of fish and riverine animals such as turtles and snakes. Yet, its riverbanks are suffocating in trash, more than 50% of which is plastic, the majority ( 80%) single use plastic , of which ( almost 20%) is made from styrofoam ( food containers and cushions) , followed by plastic shopping bags ( 10%) . Once discarded in the environment, single use styrofoam undergoes fragmentation also leading to microplastic contamination of the food chain.

Our study found a strong negative correlation between the rate of waste collection and the abundance and mass of debris found on river banks, indicating lack of waste collection ( 41.4% ) in the upstream mountainous regions of the ciliwung river as a strong driver for river bank accumulations compared with Jakarta city where upwards of 95% of waste is collected.

We emphasize the critical need to implement systematic measures to increase local government expenditure on waste management ( transport and infrastructure) throughout Indonesia , together with measures aimed at reducing plastic and specifically styrofoam usage in the Ciliwung watershed.

Moreover implementing regular monitoring of river bank debris using reproducible methods such as shown here can provide policy makers with scientifically- backed and evidence-based information to address waste management issues that ultimately contribute to oceanic pollution. Read the full paper here.

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