Education program

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For the cross-border collaboration within the Interreg V-a LIVES project (LIVES – Litter free rivers and streams) we aim to encourage knowledge sharing on plastic litter in the Meuse River as well as on the causes and actions to prevent plastic litter in the Meuse. 

The main goal of these educational modules is to inform students, professionals and other people working on plastics in the environment and to motivate them to take action. The latter includes potential policy actions as well as prevention and clean-up actions (on the river banks and in the river) and coordinated monitoring of plastics in rivers.

The information for these educational modules were gathered in 2020.


These materials are developed for higher education students, professionals or any other person who works on, or is interested in, plastic litter, and who aims to become well informed on plastic litter issues. As we aim for a cross-border target group we chose English as the main language for this education material. However, some information in Dutch and German is included.


We specifically focus on the issue of macroplastic and use the Meuse River area as an example. We highlight the pathways of plastic from the sources through rivers to seas and oceans (module 1 and 2) and the potential to remove the plastic litter from rivers (module 3). Furthermore, the policy context and responsibilities for the issue of plastic litter is elaborated (module 4). Additionally, the current knowledge on monitoring plastic litter in rivers is summarized (module 5).

There is overlap between the different modules as indicated by the figure below. However, they can be followed in any order you prefer.


The material is structured into five main topics, with the following learning goals that participants can achieve:

1) Sources and entry paths

A. Explain the most important litter sources and entry paths into the environment.
B. Indicate the amount and types of litter entering into the environment.

2) Transport paths and sinks

A. Describe the transport ways of litter in the environment (from source to sink).
B. Indicate accumulation zones and sinks in the environment.

3) Litter traps and clean-up actions

A. Describe the aim and the working of different types of litter traps in relation to river characteristics and embankment characteristics.
Analyse the possibilities of litter traps with regard to effectiveness, operation, organisation and costs.
C. Describe the possibilities of clean-up actions along river banks. 

4) Policy responses: cross-border similarities and difficulties

A. Explain the differences and similarities in the policy settings in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands on the issue of plastic litter.
Explain the challenges and opportunities of the different stakeholders that together share the responsibility for a clean Meuse.

5) Monitoring

A. List a number of relevant monitoring methods and guidelines.
Relate monitoring activities to sources and pathways of litter.


You can study the material at any time and in any order since these are stand-alone modules. For each topic an education module is designed including educational videos, reading material, self-tests, unanswered research questions and additional materials (i.e. scientific papers, websites and project homepages). The information is embedded on the LIVES homepage and the Meuse River is used as the main example for most topics. 

A time window of 60 up to 90 minutes is intended for working on each module. Although there are many connections between the individual topics, the modules can be worked on independently. The points of contact between the individual modules are highlighted via links to each other. Module 2 – transport paths and sinks – offers a wide range of data on detected environmental concentrations of plastic waste. If this is too technical for you, you can skip this section without having a disadvantage in the other modules. 

If you are a teacher or organiser of clean-up actions, please feel free to use these materials in your curriculum or to activate people to discuss and take action to reduce plastic litter. The material can also be used to enrich clean-up actions, such as the World Clean-up day, or in preparation of clean-up actions, you can encourage people to inform themselves on the different topics through the education modules.


The modules were prepared in 2020 by: