CRIPTIC - Cleaning Riverine Plastic from a Transboundary Inflow to the Caspian

Digital methods and community engagement to reduce plastic waste in the Caspian Sea.

CASPISNET in cooperation with Akvaplan-niva and partners have been granted funding from Norwegian Retailers’ Environment Fund (Handelens Miljøfond) for a project to map and clean-up plastic waste in the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan. The project combines a range of advanced digital methods, educational programs, and citizen science to engage local stakeholders in plastic mapping and clean-up activities.


The main objective of the CRIPTIC project is to build capacity in the Caspian region to reduce plastic litter to the Caspian Sea. 

The sub-objectives are: 

  • To harmonize mapping methods;
  • To mobilize local organizations in mapping and cleaning operations; 
  • To run a local pilot project on plastic waste mapping and cleaning using multidisciplinary tools; 
  • To raise public awareness and community engagement in combating plastic waste;


Study area

CRIPTIC considers the transboundary Kura river mouth and the adjacent coastal area as the pilot area for mapping, identification, and cleaning of plastic waste in the Caspian region. Crossing three countries, the Kura river is the biggest river of Azerbaijan and is considered as the second water supplier to the Caspian Sea.


Methods and tools

The project performs in situ cleaning and classification of plastic litter on riverbanks and beaches. The classification process includes the use of polymer identification using smartphone NIR scanners. The mapping to predict distribution and accumulation zones to be used in planning cleaning actions are be pursued using a combination of digital methods like high definition satellite images, advanced robotics (aerial drones) and high-resolution drift models as well as machine learning solutions for detesting and mapping the litters on the pictures. The project pilot area locates in shore line area in Neftchala region (first Beacon) around the Kura river mouth.