Published 14-02-2017

ARTIFICIAL COASTLINES FILTER TRILLIONS OF PLASTIC PARTS

14-02-2017

An unusual and sad sight greeted the people of Sotra in Norway this month, as a rare goose-beaked whale repeatedly beached on the island shoreline, stomach full of plastics. The stricken animal eventually had to be put down.

Nor-Shipping Director Birgit Liodde said “Instead of food it had eaten a variety of rubbish, including some 30 plastic bags which had clogged its digestive system. Researchers have since suggested that it may have believed these bags were squid, a usual part of this species’ diet.”

“The result was a slow and painful death, and a sad snap shot of the state of our global waters. It has been estimated that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic garbage currently polluting our ocean habitats. This is not a problem that will simply take care of itself. We need to look at innovative ways to address it before we reach an inevitable tipping point.

Liodden points to Boyan Slat and his Ocean Cleanup initiative, the winner of the Young Entrepreneur Award at Nor-Shipping 2015, as an example of how the issue can be tackled head on.

“His plan to use a passive system, driven by ocean currents, to capture and remove floating plastic waste is a stroke of genius. He was an obvious recipient for our award.”

The Nor-Shipping director points out that the main theme of this year’s programme is ‘Catalyst for Change’. Within that context the whole of exhibition Hall A has been devoted to the concept of Disruptive Sustainability – showcasing potential innovations from inside and outside the shipping spectrum – while a Problem to Profit initiative looks to the next generation for ideas to remedy today’s industry problems. The latter activity will see the best sustainable concept rewarded with a 50,000 NOK prize.

Liodden concludes: “We can all effect positive change if we set our minds to it, helping to build a better marine and maritime environment for the future. The ideas are as limitless as our imaginations. It’s time to think big.”

Plastic and trash accumulates at 5 separate ‘garbage patches’ across the oceans, but the trillions of pieces are dispersed enough to make collection and removal difficult. Slat’s prototype acts as an ‘artificial coastline’, taking advantage of ocean currents to filter out huge quantities of plastic.

Instead of using nets, The Ocean Cleanup uses solid screens which catches the floating plastic, but allows sea life to pass underneath the barrier with the current.

In 2016, a year-long trial prototype was launched off the Dutch coast, testing the durability and operational capabilities of the system. If sucessful, a pilot operation is scheduled to be launched in 2017, with a full rollout to the Pacific Ocean by 2020.

Nor-Shipping 2017, taking place across a series of venues in Oslo and Lillestrøm from 30th May to 2nd June, is the world’s leading maritime event week. This year’s exhibition and programme of events is expected to attract around 35,000 visitors, with almost 1,000 of the world’s leading maritime companies showcasing products and services to the industry, future talent and shipping value chain stakeholders.

For further details on this, and the other Nor-Shipping awards, please see www.nor-shipping.com 

To find out more about the Ocean Cleanup see www.theoceancleanup.com

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