News and Events

June 5th World Environment Day

31 May 2018

World Environment Day takes place every year on June 5th. It is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment.

Over the years, it has grown to be one of the largest global platforms for public outreach, celebrated by millions of people in well over 100 countries (

 “Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment Day 2018, is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife – and our own health.

How big is the problem?

Global Plastic Pollution by the Numbers:

  • 500 billion plastic bags used each year
  • 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year
  • 17 million barrels of oil used on plastic production each year
  • 1 million plastic bottles bought every minute
  • 100,000 marine animals killed by plastics each year
  • 100 years for plastic to degrade in the environment
  • 90% of bottled water found to contain plastic
  • 83% of tap water found to contain plastic particles
  • 50% of consumer plastics are single use
  • 10% of all human-generated waste is plastic


The School of Microbiology at University College Cork would like to invite the 6th class students of St. Catherine’s NS to participate in World Environment Day via a specially organised event:

“Eco-Kidz: Inspiring the next generation of plastic-free champions”.

The goal of this event is to help promote awareness among the students of the abundance of plastic litter around us, how its breaks down and contaminates our environment and the impacts on ecosystems.  The great news is that they have the power to be ambassadors of change and it does not require a lot of effort- just a little knowledge!

The activities will include:

 (A) May 28th – June 4th:  Empowering the students to act as citizen scientists to document plastic litter via mobile phone photography, geotagging and uploading to website (OpenLitterMap***).

(B) June 5th World Environment Day:  UCC school of Microbiology 10am – 12pm.

The students will:

  • Visit a lecture theatre to watch a short animated video by national geographic on plastic waste.
  • See their contributions to OpenLitterMap explored on the big screen and get the opportunity to discuss their observations further with a research scientist in this area.
  • Attend the teaching laboratory in the School of Microbiology where they will be involved in supervised group activities:
  • Identifying recyclable and non-recyclable plastic products
  • Analysing samples from natural environments for the presence of “microplastic” particles/fibres.
  • Completing laboratory activity sheets on their “research”.
  • Concluding with a student led discussion on the day’s activities/World Environment Day and how they as individuals can make a positive impact on plastic pollution.



OpenLitterMap is a relatively recent website created by UCC graduate Sean Lynch which allows members of the public to upload geotagged photos of litter, together with a brief description of the type of material, to create a collaborative online litter map which is available to the public. 

To use this facility each user (student or respective parent) must;

1. Create a FREE account and verify this account with a valid email address.

  1. Take photographs on an android/apple phone with Geotagging enabled in the camera settings (instructions on website).

3. Upload the photos/information to the website.

 The images are then verified by other users/admin to ensure accurate descriptions – after which they are automatically added to the database, quantitatively and geospatially analysed and made available on the map for the world to see. 

For more info and to register please visit:

Note: OpenLitterMap is not an “App” – i.e. it is not available through apple or google play sites. Once you create an account you will be provided with a list of tips with respect to taking photos, how to enable geotagging and some general troubleshooting information.  

Further Queries.

If you have any queries regarding the use of OpenLitterMap or require further details r.e. the planned activities at the School of Microbiology please contact the organiser by phone or email:

Dr. Niall O’ Leary

School of Microbiology &

Environmental Research Institute

University College Cork. 


Ph:  00 353 21 4903927.

Environmental Research Institute

University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork