• The Cleanup Team

Lakehead University joins the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup as Waste Characterization Partner




TORONTO, Ontario – August 18, 2021 Today, the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup is pleased to announce that Lakehead University has joined the initiative as a research partner, taking the lead on characterizing the debris collected by capture and cleanup devices in Thunder Bay. The partnership will expand the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup’s waste characterization network, while generating more data and building a better understanding of the extent and distribution of plastic pollution in Lake Superior.


“Academic institutions play an incredibly important role in Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup. They ensure that our waste characterizations provide accurate and comparable results,” says Christopher Hilkene, CEO, Pollution Probe. “They also help to build our community by engaging students and local residents in science and environmental stewardship activities. We are really pleased to have Lakehead University join our Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup community.”


Now in its second year, the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup aims to remove plastic waste from the Great Lakes Basin’s waterways, analyze the debris collected to build research on the types and pathways of plastic pollution in the region, and work towards stopping plastic waste from continuing to enter these important ecosystems.


The City of Thunder Bay has been a part of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup since its inception - Prince Arthur’s Landing was one of the inaugural cohort of marinas participating in the initiative thanks to support from Environment and Climate Change Canada. With this newest partnership, the litter collected at Prince Arthur’s Landing will be analyzed locally at a renowned academic institution, by experts with unparalleled knowledge of Lake Superior and the region’s unique challenges.


“We are excited to be an academic partner with this great initiative, which while helping clean up Thunder Bay’s marina will also provide critical data to help us understand the extent and severity of plastic pollution around the Great Lakes basin and provide excellent research opportunities for Lakehead undergraduate students.” says Dr. Michael Rennie, Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Ecology and Fisheries and Associate Professor at Lakehead University.


The Great Lakes Basin is the largest freshwater system in the world, and nearly half of that fresh water is contained in Lake Superior. Research has suggested that Lake Superior may be less affected by microplastic pollution than the other Great Lakes, but more data is necessary to accurately quantify the scale of the problem and to determine the sources of plastic, including in areas far away from settlements and industrial activity.


“EarthCare and The City of Thunder Bay are delighted to be a part of this great initiative. We are so thrilled that Michael Rennie and his team at Lakehead University are now on board to analyze what litter is collected from the bin and to be able to showcase what those finding are here locally.” says Amy Coomes, Sustainability Coordinator, EarthCare, City of Thunder Bay.


About the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup

The Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, spearheaded by Pollution Probe and the Council of the Great Lakes Region with support from a wide network of collaborators, is the largest initiative of its kind in the world, using innovative Seabin and LittaTrap™ technology to quickly capture and remove plastics and other litter at marinas from Lake Ontario to Lake Superior and everywhere in between. Through research, outreach and education, the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup is gathering data on litter entering our waterways and identifying how government, industry, and consumers can work together to reduce, reuse and recycle material waste. The initiative is made possible thanks to funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Government of Ontario, with sustaining funding from lead corporate sponsor, NOVA Chemicals.


About Lakehead University

Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked, once again, among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings; as well as included in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2020 World Universities Rankings for the second consecutive year, and in the top 100 of 1,115 universities from around the world in THE's 2021 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.


About Prince Arthur’s Landing

Prince Arthur's Landing at Marina Park is Thunder Bay's signature recreation destination. This community gathering place has transformed the City of Thunder Bay's waterfront into a mixed-use village and animated waterfront park reconnecting the downtown to the shores of Lake Superior.



Media Contacts:


Sabah Ibrahim

Research and Communications Co-ordinator

Pollution Probe

437-580-7137 / sibrahim@pollutionprobe.org


Mark Fisher

President and CEO

Council of the Great Lakes Region

613-668-2044 / mark@councilgreatlakesregion.org

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