QLE.20.013 – PLANET: Plastic Network for solving nano-and microplastic pollution problems

Route: Quality of the living environment

Cluster question: 004 How do ecosystems function and how vulnerable are they to environmental impacts?

Society is becoming keenly concerned of an emerging environmental contamination problem of the Anthropocene: ubiquitous and tiny plastic particulate debris called ‘microplastics’ are penetrating both the biosphere and the human body. Science currently lacks the robust, validated, fit-for-purpose methods needed to properly assess and mitigate microplastic risks to people, planet and food chains. Yet these are urgently needed in order to disentangle microplastics from nature and ensure a good quality of life and living environment.
Our dynamic and interdisciplinary PLANET consortium is designed to create, apply and communicate a powerful new set of tools and meaningful microplastics health and environmental data. These will support societal response actions that align with society’s needs, values and expectations. The societal response will be addressed by social sciences and humanities engaging with industrial, governmental and research institutes across the Netherlands and beyond.
This unique project therefore slices through disciplines. It brings together scientists and doctors developing high-tech analytical techniques, measuring exposure hotspots, and the hazards and diseases caused by microplastics, and the scholars, thinkers, creatives, connectors, policy agenda setters, innovators and societal actors who can participate in mapping, visualizing, communicating and using the data to. Together, they shall reflect on the data’s meaning and stories connected to them, imagine alternative innovation scenarios, devise policy responses, and co-create options for shifting our future away from a perpetually contaminated status quo.
Our central problem is to systematically understand, interpret, communicate and ultimately adequately deal with the human health and ecosystem exposure and risks of our contemporary microplasticized society. PLANET brings risk assessment to a new level through integrating multiple disciplines and societal connections, fostering responsible innovation and thereby stimulating a societal push towards game-changing plastic policies.


functionalizing analytical technology, Microplastic pollution analysis, policy and governance, public health and ecosystem risks, responsible research and innovation, transdisciplinary co-creation

Other organisations

AUAS, EUR, LU, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen (RU), RUAS, TNO et al., UMCU, Utrecht University (UU), UvA, WFSR


Organisation Vrije Universiteit (VU)
Name Dr. Heather Leslie
E-mail heather.leslie@vu.nl
Website http://www.science.vu.nl/environmentandhealth