A new Danish centre for research in marine plastic pollution

7 December 2018

A grant of DKK 20 million from VELUX FONDEN will enable the establishment of a new centre for research in marine plastic pollution. The centre will gather researchers across universities and academic disciplines.

Plastic debris polluting the sea is a growing environmental problem that calls for efficient and climate-neutral solutions. However, there is a need for comprehensive knowledge about types of pollution, effects on the ecosystems of the sea, spreading of the pollution, sustainable alternatives, etc.

Researchers from Aalborg University (AAU), Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Roskilde University (RUC), Aarhus University (AU) and the National Museum of Denmark (NatMus) therefore join forces to develop knowledge and solutions. The new centre is made possible due to a grant of DKK 20 million from VELUX FONDEN.

"To understand plastic pollution and suppress it, we need coordinated efforts that utilise the overall expertise in the best way possible. We are therefore very pleased to support the establishment of the new research centre, bringing together competence and competent researchers in the development of new knowledge as well as innovative and concerted solutions," says Ane Hendriksen, Executive Director of VELUX FONDEN.

Knowledge and solutions


The Danish centre for research in marine plastic pollution

A collaboration between AAU, DTU, AU, NatMus and RUC with headquarters at AAU in Aalborg.

MarinePlastic will be officially launched on 1 February 2019. For the next for four years the researchers will work intensively on developing a research-based understanding of types of pollution, sources, frequency and the environmental consequences of marine plastic pollution.

A grant of DKK 20 million from VELUX FONDEN has enabled the establishment of the centre

Professor Jes Vollertsen from Aalborg University will head the research centre. Although MarinePlastic will fundamentally contribute new knowledge, the aim is also to develop targeted solutions, says Jes Vollertsen:

‘We need new knowledge and a better understanding of the problem to develop solutions and battle marine plastic pollution before it becomes an environmental disaster. The aim is to bring our shared knowledge and expertise into use for the benefit of the world by developing targeted technological solutions and beneficial initiatives in cooperation with decision makers," says Jes Vollertsen, director of MarinePlastic Center, based at Aalborg University.

MarinePlastic will consider plastic pollution from several angles, and among other things accumulate information about the types, sources, occurence, spreading, breakdown causes and the consequences. Marine plastic pollution is caused by all sizes of plastic materials ranging from gigantic discarded fishing nets and household waste to microplastics and nanoplastics.

Partners working towards a common aim

While AAU is heading the research centre and coordinating the collaboration, each of the research groups contribute their expertise to better understand and solve the complex challenges of plastic pollution.

Technical University of Denmark

DTU and RUC will investigate the influence of legal and societal actions to reduce plastic pollution and create new knowledge describing the damaging impact of microplastics on the environment.

Torkel Gissel Nielsen, Professor at DTU Aqua, tgin@aqua.dtu.dk,+45 25 58 06 57. Responsible for research of the effects of microplasticism in the food chain.

Steffen Foss Hansen, Dr. Techn. and associate professor at DTU Environment, sfha@env.dtu.dk, + 45 29 72 32 38. Responsible for research in sociatal regulation of microplasticism.

Aalborg University

AAU will develop new analytical techniques that subsequently will be used by all the researchers in the project to examine plastic pollution. AAU will also collaborate with AU to develop new techniques to qualify and quantify yet undetected microplastics and nanoplastics in the sea.

Jes Vollertsen, Director for MarinePlastic and Professor at AAU, jv@civil.aau.dk, +45 28 95 91 95

Aarhus university

AU will head the investigation of the sources of plastic pollution and how the pollution migrates and spreads in the sea.

Jakob Strand, Senior Research Scientist at AU, jak@bios.au.dk, +45 87158654

Mikkel P. Tamsdorf, Head of Section, AU, mpt@bios.au.dk, +45 41915666

The national museum of denmark

NatMus will investigate how plastics degrades over time in coastal and marine environments e.g. why and how does a carrier bag release microplastics and how are the particles spreading.

Tine Bonde Christensen, Communications officer, the National Museum of Denmark, tbc@natmus.dk, + 45 41206144.

roskilde university

RUC will in collaboration with DTU investigate the effects plastic pollution has on the surrounding environment and on the food chain that comprises sea animals and plants. The aim is to increase our understanding of the societal consequences of plastic.


Kristian Syberg, Associate professor at RUC, ksyberg@ruc.dk, +45 46 74 37 76

The sea – a part of the solution

VELUX FONDEN wishes to contribute to a sustainable balance between the use and the conservation of marine resources. Read more about our focus on the marine environment.

For further information

Jes Vollertsen, Director for MarinePlastic and Professor at AAU, jv@civil.aau.dk,  +45  28 95 91 95

Mikkel Klougart, Head of Environmental program, VELUX FONDEN,  mk@veluxfoundations.dk, +45 23 28 36 74

If you have any questions, please contact:

Photo: Ryan Metcalfe – KIMO Danmark