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The Scheldt River


General Description

The Scheldt ends in one of the last natural estuaries of Western Europe which is subject to the tides from the North Sea, leading to a strong interaction between the ecosystems of this transitional water body. The Scheldt plays an important economic role as one of the busiest rivers in Europe in terms of navigation, and hosts the port of Antwerp-Bruges, which is Europe’s largest petrochemical cluster and second-largest seaport (13655 sea-going vessel arrivals in 2020). The INSPIRE project will focus in two areas along the Scheldt: Doeldok (Port of Antwerp-Bruges) and Temse.

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges is largely affected by plastic pellet pollution. Within INSPIRE we will assess the removal efficiency for pellets in surface water using Patje Plastic. In parallel, we will test the Archimedean drum screw, which will be installed in a dock in the Port of Oostende to remove waste floating or in suspension in the water

At Temse we will work on the detection, reduction and prevention of plastic (macro-, meso- and microplastics) along the Scheldt River by a combination of elimination and preventive measures:

  • Detection
    To identify and quantify the waste problem, four methods are employed. Drone flights over the riverbanks, fixed cameras mounted on the Temse bridge over the Scheldt, sampling from a boat with Ferrybox sampling device (water column), Manta net (water surface), and Van Veen grab (sediment on the riverbed), and waste detection via smartphone apps (JRC Floating Litter app and EEA Marine LitterWatch App).
  • Collection
    Waste will be removed in three ways. Cleanup actions will be organized with volunteers on the riverbanks. Fish-friendly trawling nets will scrape waste from the bottom of the Scheldt
  • Prevention
    By adopting a holistic approach involving the local authorities, its residents, local merchants, and schools, we aim to enhance awareness of the problem and solutions, thereby reducing plastic usage and littering. In addition, we have planned the showcase of alternatives for non-degradable plastic polluting products and zero-waste supply chain innovations.


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