Article in peer-reviewed journal
July 2019, Environmental Research Letters

Tim van Emmerik, Michelle Loozen, Kees van Oeveren, Frans Buschman and Geert Prinsen

  • Publication type: Article in peer-reviewed journal
  • Journal: Environmental Research Letters
  • Collaborators: The Ocean Cleanup (NL), Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University (NL), Deltares (NL)
  • Submitted: 13.05.2019
  • Revised: 03.07.2019
  • Accepted: 10.07.2019
  • Published: 13.08.2019


Plastic pollution in aquatic environments is an increasing global risk. In recent years, marine plastic pollution has been studied to a great extent, and it has been hypothesized that land-based plastics are its main source. Global modeling efforts have suggested that rivers in South East Asia are in fact the main contributors to plastic transport from land to the oceans. However, due to a lack of plastic transport observations, the origin and fate of riverine plastic waste is yet unclear. Here, we present results from a first assessment of riverine macroplastic emission from rivers and canals that run through a densely populated coastal urban city. Using a combination of field measurements, empirical relations and hydraulic modeling, we provide an estimate of total riverine plastic export originating from Jakarta, Indonesia, into the ocean. Furthermore, we provide insights in its composition, and variation in time and space. We found that most macroplastics in Jakarta consists of films and foils. We estimate that 2.1 × 103 tonnes of plastic waste, is transported from land to sea annually, equaling 3% of the total annual unsoundly disposed plastic waste in the Jakarta area.

  • Anthropocene, Hydrology, Macroplastic, Marine debris, Urban river