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 8 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:


Floating macrolitter​​
Camera systems installed on a river-spanning bridge, coupled with deep-learning object detection algorithms to monitor floating macro litter, yield essential insights about the presence, amount, and types of plastic contamination in aquatic environments.
Macrolitter on riverbanks
Drone flights conducted over riverbanks generate maps detailing the spatial distribution of plastic waste and the concentrations of large litter items, offering valuable geospatial data on the extent of debris accumulation.
Floating macrolitter
The JRC Floating Litter Monitoring app, tailored for tablet devices, enables the surveillance of macro litter in oceans and rivers. This monitoring approach relies on visual observations made from elevated viewpoints above the water’s surface, such as ships or bridges.
Macrolitter on riverbanks
The EEA Marine LitterWatch app allows to monitor beach and riverbank macro litter by organizing community clean-up events with citizen scientists.
Microlitter in the water column
The Ferrybox sampling device collects microplastics and other microlitter in seawater or freshwater within three successive size fractions (for example > 50 µm, > 100 µm and > 300 µm). The device is semi-automated and uses a collection module made of a series of sieves connected to the Ferrybox system onboard of a (research) vessel. It can also be used independently of a vessel, for example from a riverbank or a rigid inflatable boat (RIB), when coupled to a portable generator and a pump system.
Microlitter at water surface
Originally created for plankton sampling near the water surface, the Manta net has been repurposed for microlitter collection. This method allows for the standardized sampling of significant water volumes, efficiently gathering numerous microplastics for subsequent analysis at a low cost.


Meso-/macrolitter at water surface and in water column
The Archimedean drum screw, known for its fish-friendly design, is a modified version of the traditional Archimedes’ screw, typically used for water transportation. This system is modular and functions as a screen, permitting 90% of filtered water to pass while capturing debris and floating vegetation. All without harming local fish species, which can safely exit through a dedicated outlet.
Macrolitter in water column and at bottom of the river
The fish-friendly litter removing trawling net is an innovative way of cleaning the bottom of canals and rivers. Fish and marine life pass without damage or harm and plastics and other debris will be removed from the floor of the waterway.
Meso and macrolitter at water surface and in water column
The River Cleaning System is a modular barrier made of floating buoys which retains and displaces the incoming litter on various types of rivers and waterways. It has its optimal application in flowing waters, where the natural push of the stream spins each module in a manner similar to that of a turbine.
Meso and macrolitter at water surface and in water column
The CLEAN TRASH hot-dipped galvanized steel collection cage utilizes up to 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 system is specifically devised to operate in river mouths and waterways.
Meso- and macro-litter, plastic pellets at water surface/water column
The CirCleaner, powered by solar energy, is an innovative litter removal system. It can be controlled remotely for optimal efficiency through smart connectivity. Using a rotating assembly with permeable blades, it collects litter and macro-plastics propelled towards it by water flow and wind, depositing them into a container for disposal.
Meso- and macro-litter, plastic pellets at water surface/water column
Patje Plastic consists of a floating arm with a length of 100 m and 2 m height, pushing litter towards a large bin. Filters separate larger debris from smaller particles (> 2 mm). The system employs a passive method, relying on natural forces like tides and wind to guide water through without pumps or rotating parts. Operators are alerted to empty the system once it reaches capacity.


Nanometric tire wear particles
The Super-TW-Net filter is created to collect tire wear particles (TWP), so small you can’t see them with the naked eye. It is based on functional paramagnetic nanoparticles that will be immobilized on an appropriate scaffold and act as high-affinity adsorbents for the TWPs.
Microlitter in waste streams
The special membrane filtration unit is a chemical-free water recycling system which eliminates 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 0.1 µm.
Micro-nano plastics in surface water
The photocatalytic nanocoating device was developed to clean water of microplastics using advanced nanotechnology-based coatings on filter traps, activated by sunlight. This device uses a novel Photo-Fenton process, where hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and ferrous ions (Fe2+) deliver powerful oxidative properties due to the generation of hydroxyl radicals (·OH).
Microplastics in the outlet of wastewater treatment plants
The EcoPlex Microplastic Remover® (ECOPLEX Device) consists of two microplastic filtering units that work in series. It should be installed at the outlet of the final effluent of domestic or industrial wastewater treatment plants. The device is self-clean and fully automated.
Manual clean-ups in riverbanks will be combined with technology for plastic removal in waterways, while increasing awareness, educating citizens and helping businesses and organisations to reduce their plastic use. Through citizen science events, the clean-ups will contribute to the collection and prevention of waste in rivers but also provide data on the amount and characteristics of the waste collected. Litter production shall be prevented in the future through training on the use and implementation of zero-waste supply chain solutions.
Micro- and macroplastics
The mission of 123zero is to eliminate plastic packaging from the cosmetic industry. Cosmetic products are made from 100 % natural ingredients with minimal environmental footprint, leaving behind only the pleasant and blissful sensations. No plastics coatings or glue are used in the 75 g barrier paper packaging. The products are perfectly dosed to ensure no materials are wasted.
Replace the LDPE films on the land and soil that are difficult to collect and eventually accumulate as microplastics
Biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are developed and will be produced for biodegradable products as a more environmental-friendly alternative for current microplastics releasing waste streams. PHA produced by fermentation will be used as a basis for the production of soil degradable mulch, greenhouse films, and coated paper for food contact.
Replace single use plastic wrap
Replacing single-use plastic packaging, biodegradable chitosan-based coatings will be used for direct application on fruits and vegetables to improve shelf life and avoid additional packaging.

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.