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Development of New Plastic Materials for a Clean Environment and Detection of Entry Paths - ENSURE

Funding by: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung – BMBF
Funding ID.: 02WPL1449D
Project executing or management agency: Projektträger Karlsruhe
Funding period: 01.04.2018 – 30.09.2021
Project partners: PI: Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Kunststofftechnik | Umweltbundesamt | Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung | Technische Universität Berlin | Universität Osnabrück, Institut für Umweltsystemforschung | Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies
Associated partners: BASF SE | Herrmann Ultraschalltechnik GmbH & Co. KG | Stadtreinigung Hamburg | Berliner Wasserbetriebe | Hochschule Hamm-Lippstadt

Plastics have become an indispensable part of our daily lives. It is a group of materials with outstanding properties for various products in a wide range of applications (e.g. packaging, textiles, construction and automotive industries). They are durable, lightweight and cost-effective to manufacture. However, these advantages in the product area can develop to a disadvantage if plastics or parts of them are released into the environment uncontrolled and in large quantities. Especially the high longevity and durability in terrestrial and aquatic systems can lead to undesirable accumulation. Here, both seas and soils form a final sink.

The partners in the network are committed to developing plastics with environmentally optimized degradation behaviour that can be degraded faster and in an environmentally compatible manner while maintaining the same stability. Furthermore, with regard to recent sources and sinks in the terrestrial field, innovative methods will be developed for

  1. quantification and characterisation of environmental pollution,
  2. biological degradation of the relevant plastics and,
  3. analysis and influencing of social perception and behaviour patterns.

The interdisciplinary project thus aims at relevant key processes in the plastics cycle, the control of which will make an important contribution to the environmentally compatible use of plastics.

The aim of the remote sensing and geoinformatics section of the GFZ within the framework of ENSURE is to develop a multi-sensor system as well as a corresponding methodology for quantifying and characterising the environmental impact of plastic waste. This can be achieved by detecting diagnostic absorption bands using short-wave infrared imaging spectroscopy or by detecting spatial, temporal and/or spectral anomalies of plastics compared to the surrounding matrix by combining and synergistically evaluating the measurements of various sensors such as a multispectral CIR camera, a UV camera, and a thermal camera. The multi-sensor system should be applicable across scales, so that by the use of drones or airplanes both large-area applications for the detection of plastic contamination in the landscape (terrestrial, including bank zones) and local applications such as the quantification of plastic residues in plants (e.g. composting plants, fermentation plants) can be realized.

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