Permanent liminal litter
— published in: On drifting (2020)
— author: Karin Fischnaller (The Anderen), designer, Netherlands
permanent liminality

Tons of waste ends up in our oceans every year, from floating on the surface to carving into deep-sea sediments.
Poor disposal practices interrupt the circular lifecycle of products and cause the marine debris to enter a liminal state. Despite all promises of recycling, the junk on the sea ground seems to be permanently stuck — at least for now.

The Strait of Messina between Sicily and Calabria in the Mediterranean Sea hosts one of the largest underwater dumps on Earth. In March 2019 (Pierdomenico et al.) 1, researches reported on Nature the largest concentration of macro-litter on the deep seafloor in the Messina Strait. Nearly 4,000 litter items where counted, of which soft plastic, essentially represented by plastic bags and packages, is by far the most widespread category.


Strait of Messina 300–580 mbsl

approx. 4.000 litter items

Plastic bags and packages. Plastic bags and packages. Plastic bags and packages. Plastic bags and packages.

Bottles, cups, toys, sanitary napkins, corrugated pipes, gutter pipes, garden hoses, electrical outlet boxes and even some windows shutters.

Bricks, cement piles and foam paddings — abundant building material.


Wood boards, fragments of wooden furniture, metal plates, metal barrels.

Unidentified. Unidentified.

A buried car, four small boats of which one belongs to a touristic facility on the Sicilian coast.

Pieces of domestic appliances, chairs, tables, cloths, shoes, foam mattresses, dolls, toys, car mats, plates, electric wires, watering cans, plastic Christmas trees, toilet seats.

A car.
More small boats. Unidentified.
Plastic bags and packages.


NOV 16, 2020
Global treaty to tackle plastic pollution gains steam

MAR 11, 2020
A new Circular Economy Action Plan published by the European Commission as part of the European Green Deal

MAR 29, 2019
Researchers report massive benthic litter funnelled to deep sea in Strait of Messina

MAR 27, 2019
European Parliament seals ban on throw- away plastics by 2021

DEC 4–6, 2017
Expert group on marine litter and micro plastics was established at UN Environment Assembly


Despite all the promises of recycling, the waste seems to be permanently liminal on the sea ground due to poor disposal practices.

The Strait of Messina between Sicily and Calabria hosts one of the largest underwater dumps on Earth.


Malgré toutes les promesses de recyclage, les déchets semblent être en permanence liminaires au fond marin en raison de piètres pratiques pour leur traitement.

Le détroit de Messine, entre la Sicile et la Calabre, abrite l’une des plus grandes décharges sous-marines de la Terre.