Within INSPIRE, we aim to bring different technologies
and solutions together focusing on the detection, collection and prevention of litter, plastics and macroplastics
 in rivers and on riverbanks.

A set of 20 technologies and actions, combined into 7 INSPIRE USE CASES were identified and brought together
by the consortium to meet with the needs for the holistic approach in removing litter, plastics & microplastics from rivers.

INSPIRE technologies and actions for implementation in the use cases:

Bridge mounted AI camera for litter detection
​​The system with RGB and multispectral VNIR camera (MicaSense) monitors floating litter items in waterways in a continuous way at high spatial resolution (1 pixel = 3.5 mm). An AI model has been developed and trained to detect and classify floating litters based on the Detectron2 platform. Faster Region-Based Convolutional Neural Network was used for training of the annotated images. The RGB cam detects floating litter and derives its size. Separation between plastics and organic material is feasible using the multispectral bands of the MicaSense camera. The complete system has been tested in various rivers/canals in Belgium with a high spatial resolution, resulting in an AP50 of 88.74%.
Litter is an initiative of the Geoinformatics Center – Asian Institute of Technology (GIC-AIT) aimed at addressing the plastic pollution problem plaguing Asia-Pacific waterways. CCTV cameras serve different monitoring purposes: capture objects as they floated along the course of the river, capture objects that accumulate and they developed a real-time floating plastic litter identification technology for the #Mekong River using A.I. enabled smart CCTV systems.
The camera technology as used in the bridge mounted cameras (see description above) is also installed on a drone. The drone data are first processed with MAPEO-water, which is a cloud based platform, developed by VITO, to process drone images. MAPEO-water is able to process a variety of cameras and allows easy upload of the images to the cloud platform. After quality  checking, calibration and georeferencing, AI is used to detect litter on different background types: dry & wet sand, trees, grass, concrete, water, etc. and thus allows to detect litter present on the riverbanks. The AI algorithm has and will be further evaluated under excellence criteria.
An unexploited opportunity for microplastic and microfibers sample collection exists of fitting a MP sampling module to the Ferrybox of a vessel, which is normally used for observing essential ocean variables. Samples are being collected in a controlled way, cover broad spatial ranges, allow contamination to be estimated and provide accurate flow measurements. Intake water is collected with a constant flow rate and poured through a set of 3 stacked sieves of chosen mesh sizes. The technique can be used on ships of opportunity, which allows to greatly reduce running costs of RVs. mer types.
​​The working principle of a Mantanet is comparable to the Ferrybox, with these differences: (1) a Mantanet can handle large volumes of water before clogging (> 5 m3); (2) Mantanet sampling is sea state dependent (wave, currents); (3) a Mantanet is developed for floating plastics, while the Ferrybox is for under water sampling. Given the complementarity of Mantanet-Ferrybox, both technologies will be used in the project.
The new version of the JRC Floating Litter Monitoring app will be used (in collaboration with the JRC, European Commission) to collect litter flux data through visual observations. The EEA Marine LitterWatch app will be used for riverbank monitoring. Both apps ensure harmonized data collection compatible with the MSFD Directive. Data will be combined in advanced reporting with graphical insight dashboard and export tools to standard formats for re-use and interoperability purposes. 
An innovative way of realizing microfiltration without harming the fish population, based on the principle of rotating drum filters. With such systems microfiltration is achieved in the drum but in case of filtering river water, fish, fish eggs, etc. would get stuck inside the drum. The solution brought is to start from an Archimedes screw and position a rotating drum around it. In this way the microfiltration is efficiently executed when fish and living organisms are brought back to the river due to the screw pushing the fish up and ejecting them in the water stream without harm.
An innovative way of cleaning the bottom of canals and rivers. The innovation is based on the principle of a trawling net with a design that lets fish and other marine life pass without damage or harm and collects plastics and other debris from the bottom of waterways.
Microparticles, resulting from tyres is, after microfibers, the main source of microplastics pollution in rivers and oceans. Therefore, smart solutions and active filters are needed. To tackle this important source of pollution in rivers, the SUPER-TW-NET filter has been developed that is composed of a hybrid yarn of silk fibre and magnetic thread, functionalized with superparamagnetic Fe-based particles to achieve high selectivity in adsorption properties towards tyre wear particles.
Floating barrier deployed in rivers to collect floating macro-meso litter and transport it to riverbanks through the spinning motion of its series of buoying modules, which direct the incoming flow of debris. The technology is easy to install, requires no energy to function and provides very little obstruction to the flow of water, thus bringing minimal disruption to the local ecosystems. Each buoy is separately connected to a construction either located under water or above water, depending on vessel passage needs.
An innovative floating boom (floating barrier – CLEAN TRASH system) developed in the CLAIM project that retains, collects and monitors floating litter (that include macroplastics), specifically devised to operate in river mouths and waterways, reached a TRL 9. The CLEAN TRASH hot-dipped galvanized steel collection cage utilizes 3 separate collection chambers/levels that lower and raise to store the litter (down to 5 mm in size). The cage is equipped with lifting points and a sliding door. This collection cage will be further improved with a system that will detect, classify and quantify the debris and litter from rivers.
The CirCleaner collects litter and macroplastics in an active way. In this system there is centrally rotating shaft on which a system of blades is mounted in order for the system to collect pollution (litter and macroplastics) each time the blade goes under water. Litter and macroplastics are brought to the rotating blades, filtered out and collected.
Patje Plastic collects litter, macroplastics and the upper range of microplastics through a fractionated passive separation. Passive means there is no active component such as a pump or rotating wheel or drum. The movement of water through the system is based on the tidal activity and on wind activity. When the system is full, a warning signal is given to the operators for emptying.
CLERA’s chemicals-free water recycling system enables to eliminate the finest particles, not yet removed in previous steps for water re-use. Its innovative membrane allows a high water permeation and flow while maintaining low pressure, with membrane pores adjustable down to 0.01μm. The proposed system provides a synergistic, automated innovation that enables the removal of fibres and microplastics between 5 mm and 0.1 μm – in one automated process. An ozone generator disinfects the membranes and prevents fouling. CLERA’s device retains 90% of microplastic and enable 70% wastewater reuse, combined with 70% less energy demand.
This technological innovation will realize a photocatalytic reactor degrading microplastics in water under natural or artificial sunlight right after a pre-filtering system to remove interfering and disturbing macroplastics, ensuring its optimal operation. A prototype from CLAIM (1x1m panels), uses green nanotechnology-based coatings for mineralizing polymers. MO semiconductor nanostructures have been chemically attached to supporting membranes to ensure photochemical activity without releasing the nanoparticles.
The prototype system from CLAIM, using a synthesis of filter media containing crystalline sand is upscaled by WnW to the WnW EcoPlex Microplastic Remover® and used for solids retention with minimum particle size of 30μm. It can adapt its mechanical characteristics to the specifications of the effluent taken from for example a WWTP outlet and an average efficiency of microplastics retention of 99% is achieved.
Plastic litter collection is difficult to be automized and therefore needs many helping hands from volunteers. RCU aims to take this a step further in INSPIRE, by promoting valorisation routes as an additional incentive to collect, mainly driven by early-stage sorting of litter. RCU aims for plastic free rivers with its three- part strategy consisting of clean, educate and transform. They combine manual clean-ups and technology for plastic removal and spreading awareness, educate citizens and help businesses and organisations reduce their plastic use.
Formulations for seaweed coatings have been developed and will be applied to cosmetics in order to avoid polluting cosmetics packaging, which is highly relevant on festivals. Eco-labelled cosmetics will be used in combination with the seaweed-based formulation. Testing and validation at relevant volumes (on festivals and selected local communities) and upscaling of the technology will be the key focus in INSPIRE.
Biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates are developed and will be produced for biodegradable products as an environmental friendly alternative for current, microplastics releasing waste streams. Focus will be given to 3 applications: biodegradable mulching film (forestry, agriculture), films for use as greenhouse wrapping (agriculture) and a biodegradable paper coating. We will validate the products in terms of soil biodegradability performances according to official standards. We will link our demos to other existing zero-waste supply chains.
Biodegradable chitosan-based coatings will be used for direct application on fruits and vegetables to improve shelf life and avoid additional packaging. The coating will be tested and validated fully in compliance with food regulations in the lab and on site. Local retailers will be involved for onsite testing at a relevant scale.

The concept of INSPIRE is to show that polluted European rivers can be cleaned from litter, plastics and microplastics by smart selection and implementation of a set of technologies and actions to:

DETECT litter, plastics and microplastics in the river water and litter at the riverbanks

DETECT litter, plastics and microplastics in the river water and litter at the riverbanks

COLLECT litter, plastics and microplastics in the river water and litter at the surface of the water and riverbanks

COLLECT litter, plastics and microplastics in the river water and litter at the surface of the water and riverbanks

PREVENT river pollution by reducing plastic waste and developing eco-friendly alternatives

PREVENT river pollution by reducing plastic waste and developing eco-friendly alternatives

The concept is composed 
of 6 elements which together create impact and clean European rivers:


6 polluted European rivers are identified as use cases for setting up tests and evaluation.


20 technologies and actions are identified for implementation in INSPIRE to detect, collect and prevent litter, plastics  and/or microplastics in the river water, at the surface of the water or at the riverbanks.


Develop an action plan from each use case for further deployment and scaling-up of the technologies and actions to other European rivers.


A decision-making tool that selects the most appropriate set of technologies and actions using input from modeling of hotspots, transport and export of plastics, and from the needs, requirements, limitations with the aim to clean the rivers and to keep them clean on a long-term basis.


With all the elements available from INSPIRE, the development of a set of guidelines can be kicked-off at the end using the results of INSPIRE (the knowledge gained, action plans developed…). With these guidelines it will be possible to identify the most critical and urgent rivers that need to be tackled. A set of technologies and actions will be proposed, using a decision support tool, which bring intelligence in the selection process of the most suitable technologies.

The main target of INSPIRE is to create impact by reducing river pollution  to a minimum and improve our quality of life, health, the ocean and life in the ocean.