So far, little is known about the pollution of the Rhine with waste, in particular plastics. Few reliable data are available and due to differing methods applied, the studies at hand are only comparable to a limited extent.
Due to the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Directive 2008/56/EC, MSFD) plastics are an issue for the ICPR (see e.g. River basin management plan 2015). According to the MSFD, characteristics and quantities of waste such as plastics may not have any detrimental effect on the coastal and marine environment. Basically, plastics are impurities in the aquatic ecosystem which may potentially be harmful. Therefore, inputs should be largely reduced or phased out.
At present, studies are going on in the states of the Rhine catchment so that the data situation should improve in the near future. This may allow an improved assessment of the pollution with plastics and thus serve as a basis for further decisions and measures.