Merijn Tinga fights against plastic litter in a very special way. He paddles through the Netherlands on his sup or surfboard made from plastic waste. You may already know him as the Plastic Soup Surfer. As an artist, kite-surfer and environmental activist, he inspires people both young and old ánd actually brings about change.
Deposit on small plastic bottles
With his earlier actions, he played a major role in the introduction of a deposit on small plastic bottles and cans.
Besides preventing litter by introducing a deposit, he also directs his actions to the manufacturers. By using the Plastic Avengers App you can share photos of plastic litter. He uses the data from this app as evidence to confront manufacturers with the polluting effect of their packaging or product and convince them to change it. With success!
The motivation for current action
But that is not where the end of this battle lies. Last year, he paddled through the Netherlands to draw attention to the separation of waste in educational institutions. Because why don't we separate there?
The reason is that waste from schools, clubs and institutions is officially not household waste, but industrial waste. Household waste is collected separately, whereas for commercial waste you have to close a contract for each type of waste. This is often too expensive for (educational) institutions. As a result, it all ends up in one pile in the incinerator.
Although his campaign last year drew a lot of attention to this problem, it did not lead to any concrete agreements. That is why he is sailing 300 km from Den Ham to The Hague this week (1 to 10 September) with a proposal to sort it out this time.
Pit stop at Wageningen Campus
On his way he will stop to visit the Wageningen Campus. He was invited by the 4TU Aanjagers, because Wageningen researchers are also working hard on the plastic problem. For example, they are researching the recyclability of plastic, the consequences of plastic in the environment and how to prevent this environmental pollution.
Our research into recycling
One of these researchers is Marieke Brouwer. She is doing research into the recyclability of plastic packaging. This shows that the proportion of plastic packaging that is recyclable has hardly increased in the past seven years and remains at 27%. But there are opportunities to improve this.
Want to know more about this research? Read this article:
Our research on plastic waste in the sea
Other research focuses on the consequences of pollution. For example, did you know that waste that ends up in the North Sea can reach the Arctic in a relatively short time?
In order to visualise and tackle these flows, Wouter Jan Strietman collects plastics washed ashore in the European Arctic. He then investigates where this plastic comes from. The next step is to prevent the flow of waste.