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Microplastics in Rivers – Highlighting Missions in Horizon Europe

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Microplastics focus within Horizon Europe

Microplastics are small plastic particles measuring less than 5 millimeters in size. They pose significant environmental and health concerns as they can be found in various ecosystems, especially marine and inland water environments, such as rivers. These particles are a result of the fragmentation of larger plastic items or are intentionally manufactured for certain products, such as microbeads in cosmetics and personal care items.

Within Horizon Europe, microplastics have been recognized as a key area of concern and research focus under several of its pillars, clusters, and mission areas, including the following:

Pillar 2: Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness Under this pillar, research funding is provided to address societal challenges, and microplastics are relevant to several of these challenges, such as climate change, sustainable food systems, and clean oceans and waters.

Cluster: Biodiversity and Natural Resources Microplastics can have adverse effects on biodiversity and natural resources. Research within this cluster may seek to explore the ecological consequences of microplastic pollution and develop strategies to conserve biodiversity.

Cluster: Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment This cluster includes research related to the circular economy, resource efficiency, and environmental sustainability. The presence of microplastics in the environment and food chains makes it relevant to projects focused on these topics.

Mission Area: Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal, and Inland Waters The mission area related to the health of oceans, seas, coastal, and inland waters is particularly important when it comes to microplastics. Research projects under this mission aim to better understand the impact of microplastics on marine ecosystems and develop strategies to mitigate their effects.

Mission Area: Climate Change Adaptation and Societal Transformation Microplastics can indirectly contribute to climate change through their effect on marine ecosystems and food chains. Understanding these linkages and finding solutions to minimize their impact may fall within this mission area's scope.

Given the growing concern about the pervasive increase of microplastics and their potential impacts, Horizon Europe is likely to continue supporting research and innovation projects that address microplastic pollution. One such project that has been successfully funded is UPSTREAM, which focuses on microplastic removal in rivers.

UPSTREAM project

The UPSTREAM project (HORIZON-MISS-2022-OCEAN-01-04) is based on the widespread deployment and demonstration of a suite of 15 advanced solutions that address the serious issues of pollution from litter, plastics, and microplastics in European rivers along 5 pillars – monitoring, prevention, elimination at wastewater treatment plants, elimination from rivers, and valorization of collected plastics. The project involves 23 partners from Europe, the UK and the Eastern Balkans. It has been granted and will start in September 2023.

UPSTREAM’s SME project partners and their impacts

Below are select SME partners that are working to make UPSTREAM a success.

Wasser focuses on innovative water treatment technologies and solutions, with an aim to develop sustainable methods to purify water, address water pollution, and solve contamination challenges.

Deployed in the Danube river basin, Think Ocean collects inland plastic from 9 countries before it reaches the ocean, using an evolved “stop at source” technology. It covers over 2000 km of river with a discharge of over 6000m3/s.

DWS has developed a sustainable technology that removes chemicals contaminants from wastewater enabling its reuse. This is done through an engineering biology process that works like a microscopic ‘vacuum cleaner’ to remove chemical pollutants and excess nutrients from wastewater, enabling water reuse. It is scalable, meets the criteria of customer affordability through retrofitting within existing infrastructure and provides an end-to-end solution from water decontamination to toxic free biowaste.

Eden Tech makes microfluidics relevant to industry with solutions for high-volume processing, utilizing ultra-efficient and ultra-compact systems to clean water and provide energy with high sustainability in mind. Their ASCANDRA line is the first ultra-compact water filtration system for microplastics designed to protect rivers.

Van Remmen UV Technology is a supplier of clean solutions for the use, reuse and recycling of water through reliable UV-C technology. They aim to keep water clean and safe for people, the market, and society.

How Linq Consulting can help with proposals focused on solving the plastic problem

New funding opportunities are now open to contribute to the Mission implementation!

The Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023-2024 was adopted on 6 December 2022: new calls have opened and they are published on the funding and tenders portal. You can access the calls for this Mission directly, or you can enlist the expertise and guidance of Linq Consulting to navigate this complicated grant landscape.

Applications are open until 20 September 2023. Get in touch with us now if you would like to take advantage of the available funding before the closing date.

As always, if you would like more information on how we can help, you can reach us at:

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @linq-consulting and connect with us on LinkedIn as well.

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