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Plastic waste and the Black Sea, monitoring litter at sea and on the land from Sentinel- 2 data



Prime contractor
Organisational Unit
Implementation progress
16 April 2020

Duration: 24 months


The Project 'Plastic waste and the Black Sea, monitoring litter at sea and on the land from Sentinel-2 data' was funded by the Discovery element of ESA's Basic Activities, and it had the following objectives:

  • To facilitate systematic marine debris detection by Earth observation for tracking them before they beach, if ever, by improving a detection algorithm already sketched and tested, and develop a true detector from it
  • To test various methodologies for the detection and identification of terrestrial illegal dumping sites


The core topics were:

  1. To improve the capacity of previously developed marine litter detectors (tested for South-East Asia’s dramatic pollution situation, and in the Mediterranean Sea) to ’sense’ small amounts of litter
  2. To provide an estimation of the uncertainty depending on the observation conditions


An algorithm to detect terrestrial illegal dumping sites was developed, with the ultimate ambition to frequently update data on potential sources of plastic for the ocean drift model.

This was the key novelty of the project as only a handful of studies have focused on the ability of Earth observation to detect terrestrial debris.

Project website at Argans:



Final deliverables can be found on nebula

Contract number
Related OSIP Campaign
Marine Litter
Main application area
Topical cluster