International Conference: Microplastics in Soils

Neue Mälzerei
Friedensstraße 91
10249 Berlin

Microplastics are usually associated with marine pollution. But scientific studies are increasingly pointing to soils being a major sink for plastic debris. On October 19-20, 2022 the German Environment Agency (UBA) will hold an international (hybrid-)conference in Berlin to shed new light on the impact of plastic pollution on soils.

The conference will take place as a hybrid event and allowing for both in-person and online participation.

A 2019 Swiss study revealed that the national per capita microplastic footprint in soils is 40 times higher than in water bodies.

The sources of inputs of plastics into soils are manifold. They result, for example, from tyre wear, agriculture or long-distance transport. Previous calculations of inputs are based on theoretical estimations. Currently, there are no harmonized analytical investigation methods for soils for plastics to quantify the extent of these inputs. The necessary method development is currently being driven forward by UBA. Model estimations in a 2020 UBA study show that the inputs could theoretically amount to up to 150,000 t per year in Germany.

Soil is a nonrenewable resource because it takes hundreds of years for a layer of topsoil to form. It is not possible, or only possible with great effort, to remove undesirable substances from soils. Healthy soils are crucial for food security as the world’s population grows and farmers contend with extreme weather linked to global warming.

The conference aims at sharing the latest scientific evidence on the impact of microplastics with the goal of making recommendations to policymakers. Bettina Hoffmann, a deputy minister in the German Environment Ministry and UBA’s Vice President Lilian Busse will open the conference. Bavo Peeters, policy officer at the European Commission will report about efforts at the EU level to reduce microplastic pollution. Several scientists will present their latest findings on microplastic pollution.

more information, programme and registration

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