tagging trash project

Researchers tracking John Tory bottle in Lake Ontario and surprised by its movements

Researchers at the University of Toronto are tracking a number of orange water bottles as they float through Lake Ontario this summer in an effort to uncover how litter travels in the water, and one particular bottle is surprising the U of T trash team with its movements. 

The bottle, which has been the dubbed "the John Tory bottle" after the city's mayor, has been on quite the adventure since it was redeployed from Centre Island during the last week of July. 

On Aug. 4, a map shared by the U of T trash team showed that the bottle was on its way out of the Toronto Harbour.

Then, on Aug. 11, the team shared a map showing that the John Tory bottle had changed course and was located near Pickering.

The goal of the Tagging Trash Project is to understand how litter travels and why it ends up accumulating in certain places in an effort to ultimately reduce pollution. 

"We are using GPS-tracked 'Blender Bottle' water bottles to represent floating litter in our harbour, and will follow their travels to reveal movement patterns and potential accumulation zones for floating litter," says the trash team. 

"This will allow us to better understand local sources of litter and help inform future placement of trash capture devices (like Seabins) to divert litter from Lake Ontario."

The project began back in April and is nearing completion, at which point researchers will remove the bottles from the water and analyze their movements throughout the season. 

In the meantime, Toronto residents can follow the John Tory bottle's travels as well as the movements of the other blender bottles using an online map

And anyone who comes across one of these bottles in person is asked to leave them where they are, but residents are encouraged to snap a photo and tag @UofTTrashTeam with the hashtag #TaggingTrash when sharing it online.

Lead photo by

U of T Trash Team

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