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Study: "Plastics in the Environment"

This study, which was published in German in April, is a further development of the BKV model "From Land to Sea". The report reflects the discussion among experts which is now moving away from focusing solely on discharges of plastics into the seas, and calls for a more comprehensive look at the discharges and final whereabouts of plastics in the environment. The report now provides a holistic picture of the discharges and final whereabouts of plastic waste in the aquatic and terrestrial environments. An English version will follow shortly.


The model "From Land to Sea" offers an analysis of the discharge sources and pathways of plastic waste in Germany into the three seas, North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea. Supplementing this, the report "Plastics in the Environment" – which, like the model, was compiled by Conversio GmbH on behalf of the BKV – looks at the discharges and final whereabouts of plastic waste in the soil and internal waterways. As in the "From Land to Sea" model, the report deals exclusively with land-sourced litter. Sea-sourced litter, such as discharges caused by fishing or shipping, has been excluded for the time being.


"Plastics in the Environment" is still based in some places on estimates and plausibility considerations in view of the current secondary data situation. As with the "From Land to Sea" model, the data quality will improve with every new survey that is incorporated. Against this background, the report provides for the first time an overview of the amount of plastic that remains in the terrestrial and aquatic environments. The lion's share is made up of tire abrasion, which in many studies is also counted as microplastics. In our model, tire abrasion – like paints and surface coatings, emissions from sportsgrounds and playgrounds, and emissions from road markings – are listed as "other micropolymers".


According to the model calculations, the share of tire abrasion remaining in the terrestrial environment is over 80 % (around 80,700 tons) and in the aquatic environment, over 70 % (around 10,100 tons). The proportion of macroplastics on land, which, in the model, also includes the secondary microplastics, is around 13 %, and in waterways, 21 %. The proportion of primary microplastics remaining in the terrestrial environment is, however, comparatively small with a share of 3 % (around 3,200 tons). In waterways, its share is 4 % (around 550 tons). The remainder is, at 1-2 %, shared between paints and surface coatings, road markings, and emissions from sportsgrounds and playgrounds. The report, like the model and some special reports, can be ordered free of charge from the BKV.


Further information: To order the report "Plastics in the Environment"


Your contact for this topic is Stephanie Cieplik (



  • BKV GmbH
  • Photo: © BKV GmbH / Baretto

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