citizen science

Citizen science taps into the power of the people, where they are. Citizen science plays an important role to combat plastic pollution and marine litter. Citizen science contributes to expanding data collection to a wider geographical area.

Citizen science is intended to be something everyone is invited to participate in. Citizen science plays a key role in data collection on the presence and pathways of litter in the environment, on land, rivers, lakes and the ocean. Active public involvement in scientific research is advancing; there is a growing stakeholder network of civil society organisations and marine scientists collaborating on professionalising citizen science.

Based on data analysis campaigns can be developed to address specific types of litter found in the monitored area, which contributes to advancing applied science. Citizens engaging in litter clean-ups do not necessarily have the knowledge about scientific methods, monitoring protocols, data analysis and reporting and is met by scepticism by some. Collaboration between citizens and scientists is key.

publications and citizen science projects

Publication Mapping citizen science contributions to the UN sustainable development goals

Publication The Contribution of Citizen Scientists to the Monitoring of Marine Litter

  • Republic Of Korea & Indonesia

Collaboration O.S.E.A.N & Indonesian Waste Platform

  • Taiwan

Publication Quantity and type of coastal debris pollution in Taiwan: A rapid assessment with trained citizen scientists using a visual estimation method

Ning Yen, Chieh-Shen Hu, Ching-Chun Chiu, Bruno A. Walther,
Quantity and type of coastal debris pollution in Taiwan: A rapid assessment with trained citizen scientists using a visual estimation method,
Science of The Total Environment, Volume 822, 2022, 153584, ISSN 0048-9697,

  • Australia

The Australian Marine Debris Database was created to enable volunteers and organisations who were running beach clean-up events to also collect data on what they were finding with a consistent methodology so it could be collated into a standardised national database on marine debris.

Since 2004 more than 7 million pieces of data have been inputted into the Australian Marine Debris Database, creating a comprehensive overview of what amounts and types of marine debris are impacting beaches around the country.

Publication based on Data of Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Continental patterns in marine debris revealed by a decade of citizen science – Jordan Gacutan, Emma L. Johnston, Heidi Tait, Wally Smith, Graeme F. Clark,
Continental patterns in marine debris revealed by a decade of citizen science,
Science of The Total Environment, Volume 807, Part 2, 2022, 150742, ISSN 0048-9697,
Abstract: Anthropogenic marine debris is a persistent threat to oceans, imposing risks to ecosystems and the communities they support. Whilst an understanding of marine debris risks is steadily advancing, monitoring at spatial and temporal scales relevant to management remains limited. Citizen science projects address this shortcoming but are often critiqued on data accuracy and potential bias in sampling efforts. Here we present 10-years of Australia’s largest marine debris database – the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI), in which we perform systematic data filtering, test for differences between collecting groups, and report patterns in marine debris. We defined five stages of data filtering to address issues in data quality and to limit inference to ocean-facing sandy beaches. Significant differences were observed in the average accumulation of items between filtered and remaining data. Further, differences in sampling were compared between collecting groups at the same site (e.g., government, NGOs, and schools), where no significant differences were observed. The filtering process removed 21% of events due to data quality issues and a further 42% of events to restrict analyses to ocean-facing sandy beaches. The remaining 7275 events across 852 sites allowed for an assessment of debris patterns at an unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. Hard plastics were the most common material found on beaches both nationally and regionally, consisting of up to 75% of total debris. Nationally, land and sea-sourced items accounted for 48% and 7% of debris, respectively, with most debris found on the east coast of Australia. This study demonstrates the value of citizen science datasets with broad spatial and temporal coverage, and the importance of data filtering to improve data quality. The citizen science presented provides an understanding of debris patterns on Australia’s ocean beaches and can serve as a foundation for future source reduction plans.
Keywords: Environmental monitoring; Plastic pollution; Bioregional management; Litter; Citizen science; Marine debris

  • Canada

Home Waste Audit by the U of T Trash Team, a science-based community outreach group made up of undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, researchers, local volunteers and staff all working together with a common goal to increase waste literacy in our community while reducing plastic pollution in our ecosystems. We were founded in 2017 in collaboration with the Rochman Lab, part of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto.

  • Europe

European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) vision: Our vision is that all citizens in Europe are valued and empowered as actors in advancing knowledge and innovation, and thus supporting sustainable development. We want to establish citizen science as a recognized, promoted and funded approach, one that fosters scientific literacy and the democratization of science. Through this, we want to see an increase in the social relevance and sustainable impact of research, and a stronger evidence base for policy processes, in Europe and globally. ECSA 10 Principles of Citizen Science available in 31 languages.

  • Europe

Plastic Pirates: citizen science project for schools with a focus on collecting data on riverine litter – 981 schools so far participating in Germany, Portugal, Slovenia and Chile. The campaign Riverine litter database – Plastic Pirates

  • European Union

Welcome to the platform for sharing citizen science projects, resources, tools, training and much more. Type in ‘plastic’ or ‘litter’ to participate in related citizen science groups

  • France and England

Preventing plastic pollution, one piece at at time. Working in partnership with 18 organisations from across France and England, Preventing Plastic Pollution seeks to understand and reduce the impacts of plastic pollution in the marine environment. By looking at the catchment from source to sea, the project will identify and target hotspots for plastic, embed behaviour change in local communities and businesses, and implement effective solutions and alternatives.  Litter Pick and Citizen Science Lesson Plans

  • Russia

The People of Science portal This is a project of the Association of Communicators in Education and Science (AKSON). It is non-commercial and free. It is Russia’s first platform for scientific volunteering projects (citizen science, citizen science) for scientists and volunteers. Do you want to do science without being a scientist? Or are you a scientist and want to find volunteers? Welcome!

  • Global

Brand audits organised by Break Free From Plastic

  • Global

SciStarter is a globally acclaimed, online citizen science hub where more than 3,000 projects, searchable by location, topic, age level, etc, have been registered by individual project leaders or imported through partnerships with federal governments, NGOs, and universities. As a research affiliate of NCSU and ASU, and a popular citizen science portal, SciStarter hosts an active community of close to 100,000 registered citizen scientists and millions of additional site visitors. Hundreds of citizen science projects use SciStarter’s NSF-supported APIs to help citizen scientists earn credit for their participation in their SciStarter dashboard, across projects and platforms. These features enable SciStarter’s partners (libraries, schools, museums, Girl Scouts and more) to catalyze customized citizen science pathways and track and support the progress of their communities through SciStarter. SciStarter also supports researchers in managing projects, including best practices for engaging participant partners.

  • Global

Two citizen science programs by The Ocean CleanUp Riverine litter and Marine Litter (2 apps and map)