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Action Ocean Plastic Waste logo, together with NTNU Oceans and NTNU Sustainability logo.


  • NTNU students at Mausund Fieldstation. Photo: Hilde Ervik.

    NTNU students at Mausund Fieldstation. Photo: Hilde Ervik. 

Action Ocean Plastic Waste

Action Ocean Plastic Waste

Plastic pollution has reached all the world's oceans, fueled by many million additional pieces of plastic entering the seven seas every single day. From macroplastics to microplastics, to chemicals leaching from the debris, ocean plastic waste is detrimental to the health of the Blue Planet.

In accordance with NTNU's Knowledge for a better world, the Strategic Research Areas NTNU Oceans and NTNU Sustainability jointly support Action Ocean Plastic Waste, aiming to stimulate awareness, facilitate research, disseminate knowledge, and inspire action in pursuit of UN SDG 14 and its targets - engaging researchers, students, industry, NGOs, and other stakeholders across disciplines, organizations, borders, and cultures.

For questions or suggestions regarding this initiative, please contact Karl Klingsheim or Medya Fenerci.

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Interns for Sustainability, funded by The Norwegian Retailers’ Environment Fund, aims to inspire and motivate students and young researchers to engage in topics related to combatting Ocean Plastic Waste – by providing relevant information, global networking opportunities, and access to projects with external partners.

SANO Exchange Program 2020-2023 is operated jointly with the Sustainable Seas Trust in South Africa. Each year, a new cohort of participants works in teams across academic, social, geographic, cultural and legislative boundaries to combat plastic waste and prevent marine pollution.

More about the SANO Exchange Program

Summary of active projects in SANO cohort 3.

SANO Concluding Conference 18 August 2023.

Interested in doing your thesis on an Ocean Plastic Waste related topic?

You can work with your supervisor and join the AOPW network for more support, resources and possible outreach based on your work. 

Examples of student project work

Posters from Experts in Teamwork

Experts in Teamwork (EiT) at NTNU is a master's degree course where students develop their interdisciplinary collaboration skills. The course is compulsory for all students at master's level at NTNU. Each student will be part of an interdisciplinary group that will face major, real societal challenges. The students will utilize the interdisciplinary competence in the group to solve a specific project. At the same time, during the work, they will reflect on how the actual collaboration on the project works.

EiT villages related to ocean plastic waste in 2023:

Posters from Experts in Teamwork

Researchers from all campuses at NTNU are involved in projects and programs related to Ocean Plastic Waste:

Sweet Spot
is a collaboration project to identify the primary sources and hot-spot areas of plastic pollution in Norwegian waters. Adopting an interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach, the project aims at building on current research activities at NTNU to investigate transformative solutions to the marine plastic problem.

MAPLE (Marine Plastic Pollution: Environmental impact and life cycle scenarios) focuses on marine plastic pollution and its environmental impacts in Trondheimsfjord and the outer central coast of Norway. We combine field studies, laboratory studies and computer modelling in an interdisciplinary approach to understand this complex problem. 

Prediction Model for Ocean Plastic Policy (PlastOPol) aims to develop prediction models to trace and analyze marine plastic waste flows and provide support for policy makers and citizens in developing and implementing mitigation measures.

Blue Circular Economy
The Blue Circular Economy is a transnational project funded by the Northern
Periphery and Arctic Programme, that helps Small and Medium-Sized
enterprises (SMEs) offering products and services, within fishing gear
recycling solutions, to attain a great market reach.

Circular Ocean
Inspiring Communities to realise the hidden economic opportunities of discarded fishing nets and ropes in the Northern Periphery & Arctic region

The ATLANTIS project is working on developing models to quantify human impacts on the marine ecosystem within the framework of Life Cycle Impact Assessment. We focus on plastic pollution and marine invasive species and aim to develop our models in a global, spatially-differentiated way. ATLANTIS has been funded by the European Research Commission.

This project will allow to integrate potential environmental impacts of marine litter, especially plastic, in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) results. This will lead to a more comprehensive picture of potential environmental impacts in order to identify trade-offs associated with the use of plastic and other materials in a product system.

The First steps towards an Assessment of plastic Risk to the Norwegian Environment project will enhance scientific knowledge and management of plastic debris in Norway by producing a toolbox for assessing the quality of macro- and microplastic exposure and effects data.

focuses on studying how small microplastic (sMP; <100µm) and nanoplastic (NP; <1µm) particles are formed through the degradation of larger plastic items, and how these particles behave as they are transported from freshwater, through coastal brackish waters, and into the marine environment.

EnviroChemistry Lab
The lab’s scope of research includes understanding environmental sources, pathways, distribution, dynamics and fate of chemical pollutants from macro- and micro-plastics. Current studies include biomonitoring of chlorinated, brominated and fluorinated organic compounds, phenolic endocrine disruptors, and other emerging environmental contaminants related to plastic for characterizing human and wildlife exposure pathways, and to allow evaluation of sources, pathways and risks.

ENVITOX performs research on the occurrence and effects of a broad range of pollutants within biological systems from the molecular to the population level, using field sampling, controlled experiments (in vitro and in vivo) as well as mathematical modeling.We also investigate how plastics and other synthetic agents (e.g., endocrine disrupting chemicals) affect human and ecosystem health.

Mausund Fieldstation
Mausund Fieldstation develops methods, tools, and processes for combatting marine pollution. Throughout the year, employees and volunteers remove marine litter from beaches, islands, and coastal areas in the Trøndelag region. Hands-on experiences and on-site location form the basis for projects on education, research, and innovation. Results, data, and general knowledge are shared freely and actively disseminated in reports, at conferences, and during school visits.

NTNU theses (in searchable XLS format)

SANO kickoff workshop cohort 1 (February 2021)

SANO webinars cohort 1 (February-March 2021)

SANO webinars cohort 2 (February-March 2022)

SANO cohort 2 team presentations (May 2022)

SANO webinars cohort 3 (February-March 2023)

Handelens Miljøfond: Fakta og kunnskap om plast (in Norwegian)

Norwegian Retailers' Environment Fund: Plastsimulator

GRID Arendal: Debunking Myths about Plastic Debris in our Ocean 

GRID Arendal: Plastic Myths - What Can We Do?

GRID Arendal: Publications

Sustainable Seas Trust: African Marine Waste Network

In a circular economy (CE) perspective, waste is a result of faulty design of products and services. Simply put, waste are resources gone astray. CE is a systematic approach to economic development that benefits businesses, society, and the environment in different ways. One such way is through value realization in waste management systems.

Africa is currently the second most polluted continent (after Asia), and the only continent with a growing population - which inevitably produces more waste. An increasing number of people in Africa is destined to live below the poverty line, i.e. on less than US$ 1.90 per day. At the same time, UN's Africa Waste Management Outlook stipulates the intrinsic value of municipal waste discarded in Africa alone to exceed US$ 8 billion every year.

In other words, post-consumer plastics represent a readily available and low-cost "feedstock" for entrepreneurs aspiring to generate a profit and create new jobs - while saving the planet in the process. Below please find examples of innovative projects around the world that, hopefully, will inspire people to take action in your neighbourhood.

Technology overview

DIY and SME projects

Industry projects

Chemical recycling

For additions, suggestions, or comments, please email Karl Klingsheim.

Circular Plastics 2023-2026 aims to encourage more circular usage of plastics - by motivating and facilitating students, researchers, businesses, and others to interact across disciplines and organizations.
- The project relies on external partners to articulate challenges and/or opportunities to be pursued in concerted efforts by NTNU students, researchers, and partners. Although academic research is not funded directly, researchers will increase their visibility and expand their external networks – which in turn inevitably will strengthen future applications for research funding from multiple sources.
- For summer jobs in 2023, priority is given to students who this autumn will embark on the final year towards their master’s degrees (irrespective of study program or field of expertise). Each summer project will engage one (or more) external problem owner(s), an interdisciplinary team of 3-6 students, and an academic advisor from NTNU – who will also provide guidance regarding topics for subsequent project and master thesis.
The Norwegian Retailers’ Environment Fund provides funding for student internships and summer jobs. If you are interested, please contact prof Karl Klingsheim.

Business Hub for Sustainability (BH4S) originates from the competence environment in Møre og Romsdal county in Norway. The main goal is to develop knowledge, skills and foster cooperation to transform businesses through business models that contribute to solving the challenges highlighted in the UN’s Sustainable Development goals for 2030.
- One way for organizations to contribute to the CE is through circular economy business models (CEBM). CEBMs work to reduce resource use and waste within production, but also to extend product life cycles and employ strategies that allow the consumer to do more than buy, use and dispose.

Circular Chains in Ocean Plastics 2022-2026 (CirCOP) is located at NTNU Ålesund. More information.

PLASTICENE: The role of humans in the life of plastic. Plasticene develops tools for increased resource utilisation, circularity and regulatory support of plastic use in Norway. Plastic waste and emissions of plastic to nature represent a major societal challenge, and increased knowledge of the plastic resource flow is essential for developing tools for increased resource utilisation, circularity and regulatory support of plastic use. PLASTICENE will study plastic material flow and composition in Norway and thereby contribute to the knowledge needed for e.g. designing circular plastic business models and finding the most effective pathways for policy for mitigation of plastic pollution. 

UNEP October 2021: From Pollution to Solution: A global assessment of marine litter and plastic pollution.

During the Fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) in March 2022, governments agreed to adopt an ambitious new agreement, with specific legally-binding provisions and obligations to prevent and remediate plastic pollution and its toxic impacts - the UN Plastics Treaty.

Scientists’ Declaration on the Need for Governance of Plastics Throughout their Lifecycles.

Scientists' Network for an Effective Plastics Treaty (SNEPT) - Membership Form.

Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution - First Session.

The EU is paving the way for a global agreement on plastics, to support the global shift towards a circular economy - Global Action on Plastics.

The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, co-chaired by Norway and Rwanda, is committed to develop an ambitious international legally binding instrument based on a comprehensive and circular approach that ensures urgent action and effective interventions along the full lifecycle of plastics.

Established by the Norwegian Prime Minister in 2018, the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) of world leaders is working to build momentum towards a sustainable ocean economy in which effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity go hand-in-hand. Without action, the annual flow of plastic into the ocean will nearly triple by 2040, to 29 million metric tons.

The primarily mission of the Plastic Pact is to reduce plastic pollution today and shape a revolutionary Plastic Pact between Citizens, Companies, Cities and Countries by 2030!