Article in peer-reviewed journal
September 2019, Scientific Reports

Tim van Emmerik, Emily Strada, Thuy-Chung Kieu-Le, Luan Nguyen and Nicolas Gratiot

  • Publication type: Article in peer-reviewed journal
  • Publication journal: Scientific Reports
  • DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-50096-1
  • Received: 12.03.2019
  • Aceepted: 06.09.2019
  • Published: 19.09.2019
  • Collaborators: Stichting The Ocean Cleanup (NL), Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University (NL), CARE, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (VN), University of Grenoble Alpes (FR), Aix-Marseille University, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography, UniversitĂ© de Toulon (FR), Faculty of Geology and Petroleum Engineering, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (VN)


Marine plastic pollution is an increasing environmental threat. Although it is assumed that most marine plastics are transported from land to the ocean through rivers, only limited data on riverine plastic transport exists. Recently, new methods have been introduced to characterize riverine plastics consistently through time and space. For example, combining visual counting observations and plastic debris sampling can provide order of magnitude estimations of plastic transport through a river. In this paper, we present findings from multi-season measurement campaign in the Saigon River, Vietnam. For the first time, we demonstrate that macroplastic transport exhibits strong temporal variation. The monthly averaged plastic transport changes up to a factor five within the measurement period. As it is unclear what drives the variation in plastic transport, relations between rainfall, river discharge, presence of organic material and plastic transport have been explored. Furthermore, we present new findings on the cross-sectional and vertical distribution of riverine plastic transport. With this paper we present new insights in the origin and fate of riverine plastic transport, emphasizing the severity of the emerging thread of plastic pollution on riverine ecosystems.

  • Macroplastic, Plastic transport, river pollution