The Plastic Experiment is part of ForskarFredag, European Researchers’ Night in Sweden, and is being run by VA in collaboration with the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation and the University of Gothenburg. In this nationwide citizen science project, thousands of members of the public and school pupils are collecting and analysing plastic litter in order to help researchers map the extent of plastic waste in the Swedish natural environment.
“The Plastic Experiment will provide us with new knowledge about the reasons why plastic ends up in nature and what the weaknesses in the chain are. With better knowledge about the problem, we can also find better solutions,” said Professor Bethanie Carney Almroth, a researcher in Ecotoxicology and Zoophysiology at the University of Gothenburg and the scientific lead on the Plastic Experiment.
Over 3,000 school pupils and scouts have already registered to participate in the collection, which started on 1 September. For researchers, citizen science is a great way to collect large amounts of data. Participants also learn more about science and how research is conducted.
“Many young people are really concerned that many things in the world and society are heading in the wrong direction. I want them to feel that they have the power to make a difference and make their voices heard. This experiment is something that they can actively get involved in and be part of the solution with their efforts potentially influencing decisions in society,” said Bethanie Carney Almroth.
The first collection period took place in spring 2022 and involved over a thousand pupils collecting and catagorising plastic litter that they found in the Swedish natural environment. In total, 19,536 plastic items were logged across Sweden over a two week period. The Experiment will run for the whole of September and anyone in Sweden is invited to participate. Participants can select which day(s) they wish to undertake the study.
The Plastic Experiment is being run in association with the national science festival ForskarFredag 2022, part of European Researchers’ Night, which is coordinated by VA (Public & Science). It is funded by the research council Formas and partly by the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon Europe (GA No:101061464) as part of European Researchers’ Night.