EPA method being added to method evaluation study for tracking trash in watersheds

Posted August 7, 2019

SCCWRP and the San Francisco Estuary Institute will evaluate a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency method for quantifying trash in the environment as part of Year 2 of a study seeking to develop standardized trash tracking methodologies for California.

The Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol, developed by the EPA’s Trash Free Waters Program, will become the fifth method to be tested side-by-side at sites across Northern and Southern California. Year 2 of field work will kick off in August.

Researchers’ goal is to identify rigorous but cost-effective trash monitoring methods that can be used across California to assess the long-term effectiveness of various trash management programs.
The four methods evaluated during the first year of the study include a qualitative method that gives a visual estimate of the amount of trash, a volume method, a tally method and a method that involves collecting and analyzing imagery from drones.

During Year 2, hand-annotated images will be used to train a machine to develop an algorithm to identify the trash automatically.

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