Mapping plastic hotspots in estuaries using citizen science

Plastic waste in an estuarine environment tends to exhibit an aggregative behaviour, resulting in the formation of plastic hotspots. The associated plastic accretions exude critical environmental challenges, posing several wide-ranging impacts. The Umgeni River Mouth in South Africa is a region known to be afflicted by the above-described deleterious process, however, sparse datasets have been published regarding the spatiotemporal variations of plastic waste hotspots embedded within the associated estuary. Traditional methods of delineating plastic plume hotspots are resource intensive. Consequentially, my research seeks derive a method to deliver an accurate, cost-effective method of plastic waste hotspot zone delineation through a culmination of citizen science data retrieval and machine learning algorithms.

Rob Boreham

BScEng (Civil)