GNF - Entry of microplastic in German and Italian lakes

Blue Lakes – Micro Plastics in Lakes

How to ban Micro Plastics in Lakes in Italy and Germany


Interactive Information Platform

Follow us on a virtual journey through our interactive information platform and find answers to many interessting questions:

Current situation

Plastic waste is a growing problem of water pollution worldwide. Due to their material properties, plastics hardly dissolve and thus remain in the environment for decades. Weather influences change the material and cause it to disintegrate into ever smaller particles, down to the micrometre range.


The amount of microplastics (very small plastic particles, e.g. smaller than 5 mm) is constantly increasing in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. There are already several scientific studies on the effects of microplastics on oceans. For inland waters, there is significantly less data and knowledge available so far. The few studies that have been carried out nevertheless contain clear indications that the situation in lakes is comparable to that of oceans.


Scientists found microplastics in every water sample from German and Italian lakes and rivers. Several studies have shown that plastics from terrestrial sources enter lakes especially via rivers and sewage. The EU Commission has started to restrict the use of intentionally added microplastics, e.g. in cosmetic products. Synthetic fibre clothing releases microplastic particles when washed. Tyres and asphalt produce microplastics by abrasion. Although there is not yet a drinking water problem, experts are aware of the problem of harmful effects of microplastics on fish and thus also on the human food chain. Endocrine effects are also suspected.


Based on the "European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy", the Global Nature Fund (GNF) together with the Lake Constance Foundation and several Italian partners have initiated the "Blue Lakes" project. The project focuses on the avoidance and reduction of the input of plastic waste into lakes. This is to be achieved in particular through dialogue and exchange with experts in water pollution control and by informing and sensitising the public. The aim is to collect current practical knowledge in order to develop and promote solutions for the environmental problem of microplastics, which may have been underestimated in the past.

What are microplastics? explainity® explainer video,

Target groups

The target groups include political decision-makers, experts and specialists in the field of wastewater treatment and plastics, as well as the general public, who should be informed about the topic of microplastics and motivated to take action. The following institutions will be addressed: Authorities and municipal administrations, operators of wastewater treatment plants, school classes, tourists and citizens at the lakes in Italy and Germany. Companies, especially from the tire, asphalt, synthetic fibre textiles and cosmetics industries will also be involved with the aim to actively participate in the development of possible solutions for the reduction of microplastics.

Geographic scope

In Italy and Germany, various project measures are being implemented in five lake regions (Lake Constance, Lake Chiemsee, Lake Garda, Lake Trasimeno and Lake Bracciano). Transferable results are to be passed on to other organisations within the framework of a Europe-wide information campaign.

Aims and objectives of the project

  • Decision-making processes regarding microplastics in lake communities are to be improved. To this end, the around 150 neighbouring communities on the five Italian and German project lakes will be involved. The aim is to develop a "Lake Paper" with information on new monitoring methods and technical solutions for the protection of lakes against plastic and microplastics.
  • Development and dissemination of a technical protocol addressed to the wastewater authorities in Italy and Germany. The technical operators of wastewater treatment plants will be involved and consulted in order to effectively reduce the input of microplastics into lakes.
  • Networking of scientific institutions that conduct research in the field of microplastics with various industrial sectors. National and international companies from the cosmetics, outdoor and tire industries will be motivated to engage in a participatory process. The aim is to collaborate on the development of solutions for the reduction and future avoidance of additional pollution through microplastics.
  • Raising public awareness with a focus on residents, schools, tourists and communities on Italian and German lakes through an information campaign on microplastics.
  • Influencing political decision-makers at Italian, German and European level to improve the existing legal framework for reducing the pollution of lakes by microplastics.
 To the Project Webpage Blue Lakes ..
 Not a pretty sight, but reality: Plastic waste does not only line the beaches at seaside, but can also be found in shore zones of inland waters.
 Water analyses have shown that not only the water of the oceans is polluted with microplastics, but also in lakes, wetlands and rivers tiny plastic particles can be found.
 Plastic waste on the beach
 Each washing cycle of plastic articles releases microplastics.
 Cotton swabs with plastic handles will soon be a thing of the past in the EU.
 The abrasion from car tires, for example, enters the water cycle via rainwater.
 There are more environmentally friendly alternatives for many everyday objects made of plastic.
 In everyday life we use many things made of plastic.

Main Funder:

 Life+ Programm of the European Union


 Alfred Kärcher SE & Co. KG
 Sika AG
 Foundation Ursula Merz

Events and recordings


LIFE Blue Lakes – Microplastics in Lakes

1 July 2021

To the recording


Stellschrauben für Gemeinden zur Reduzierung von (Mikro-)Plastik

21 September 2021

To the recording (available only in German)


Microplastics in Lakes – Impacts and Approaches to Solutions
3 May 2022
To the recording


Microplastics in Lakes –The LIFE Blue Lakes Project Partner Event within the EU Green Week 2022

30 May 2022

To the recording


Contact persons

Mr Udo Gattenlöhner

Global Nature Fund - Office Radolfzell

Phone: +49 7732 9995 80



Ms Bettina Schmidt

Global Nature Fund - Office Radolfzell

Phone: +49 7732 9995 84



Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

The project should make a concrete contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
 Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
 Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
 Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Project period:


Project countries:


Project partners:









Main Funder:



October 2019 - September 2023


Germany, Italy


Legambiente Onlus (Co-ordinator); Italy

Autorità di Bacino Distrettuale dell’Appennino Centrale; Italy

Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione Ambientale – Umbria; Italy

Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA); Italy

Università Politecnica delle Marche; Italy

Bodensee-Stiftung; Germany

Global Nature Fund; Germany


Life+ Programme of the European Union


Alfred Kärcher SE & Co. KG, Sika AG, German Postcode Lottery, Foundation Ursula Merz, Environmental Action Germany (DUH) Regional Association South, Association of Friends of the Institute for Lake Research and Lake Constance e.V.