Macroom is playing its part in giving our sea waste a new life

June 30th, 2016 9:55 PM

By Southern Star Team

Launching the Circular Ocean project were, from left: Kenneth Boyd, Environmental Research Institute (Scotland); Neil James, Environmental Research Institute (Scotland); Ida Bertelsen, ARTEK (Arctic Technology Centre, Greenland); Michelle Green, programme manager, Macroom E (Ireland); Dina Aspen, NT

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MONEY for old rope? That’s what Macroom E is trying to achieve as part of a new European project which aims to help turn waste plastic from the sea into a useful resource. 

Circular Ocean was recently launched in Sisimiut, Greenland and is funded by the EU. It aims to support the move to a more circular economy and inspire remote communities within northern Europe and the Arctic to realise the economic opportunities of discarded marine plastic, in particular, fishing nets and ropes. 

It has been estimated that more than 8m tonnes of marine litter ends up in the ocean every year, of which 15% is floating on the surface, 15% is washed ashore and the remaining 70% sinks and rests on the ocean floor. 

Fishing-related gear has been assessed by experts to be the most harmful type of litter to seabirds, mammals, and turtles, with the economic damage of marine plastic waste estimated almost €12bn. 

Macroom E is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cork County Council and is the Irish partner in Circular Ocean. The Circular Ocean project stems from the findings of another Macroom E project, the SMILE Resource Exchange project, which identified fishing nets as a problematic waste stream. 

Macroom E took this on board, driving discussions forward with potential partners on what became the Circular Oceans project.   

Playing a key role in Circular Oceans, Macroom E is responsible for communication and dissemination ensuring that the project results reach scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs but are also accessible to local communities. 

Michelle Green, Circular Ocean project manager at Macroom E, said the project will inspire and guide local communities to develop robust social and economic enterprises based around the collection and re-processing of discarded fishing nets. 

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