Application that maps coastal rubbish developed in Coimbra

 In News, Technology

An application which can map and quantify the amount of rubbish along Portugal’s beaches and coastline has been developed in Coimbra.

The app is a joint science-citizen project developed by researchers at the University of Coimbra’s Department of Sciences and Technology (FCTUC) Centre for Sea and Environmental Sciences (MARE) in partnership with the Portuguese Association of Marine Detritus (APLM).

The app not only aims to make the public more aware of the importance of dealing with the issue of sea rubbish but also alerting competent authorities to the urgent need to adopt measures that can mitigate this serious environmental problem.

On Thursday the joint partnership launched the platform called which is also available on facebook and instagram and enables a simple way to map and quantify concentrations of rubbish washed up along Portugal’s coastline.

“There are currently many beach cleaning initiatives in Portugal however, the compilation and organisation of all data that is being produced by these campaigns is needed so that the appropriate political and social bodies can be informed as to the levels of pollution and promote effective reductions in costal pollution levels,” says Filipa Bessa, a researcher for MARE and platform coordinator.

A simple counter, comprising 20 items — representing the materials and waste that are most often collected on Portuguese beaches — will over time show the types of rubbish that are discarded or washed up on them.

A scientific counter operated by researchers and specialist technicians includes a much wider list of types of marine rubbish and can be useful to entities that are responsible for national and international monitoring of this kind of pollution.

This categorised rubbish counter means that a broader platform could be developed which is free of access and maps the amount of marine detritus along coasts.

This vast range of marine rubbish includes metal, rubber, plastic, glass and paper with 80% of the materials identified as plastic in various forms and sizes.

“Due to the fact these items are not biodegradable in the environment, plastics have been identified as one of the greatest environmental problems of our time, resulting in an excess consumption of these plastics and some failures in the management of this waste. Around 8 million tonnes of rubbish end up in the oceans and seas annually and the trend for this is to increase,” says the coordinator of the Lixo Marinho platform.