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Combating the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic: CLAIM provides the tools to fight increased marine plastic pollution

EU project CLAIM develops innovative technologies, which can minimise the increasing amount of plastics in European seas, including those resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

© Image by joelsaucedosaucedo from Pixabay

Not only is the coronavirus pandemic posing a major threat to human health, it is also changing the lifestyles and routine of people worldwide. The short-term introduction of hygienic measures has led to increased use of single-use plastics, including masks, gloves, plastic bags, to-go containers and more. These pollute the environment and eventually end up in seas and oceans, which becomes an emerging concern for environmental agencies, scientists, NGOs and projects dealing with plastic pollution. CLAIM (Cleaning litter by developing and applying innovative methods in European seas) (https://www.claim-h2020project.eu/) has the capacity to tackle the post-pandemic issue of increased plastic amounts via a set of technological innovations which clean marine debris. Within the framework of CLAIM, the company New Naval Ltd. (https://www.oilspillresponse.gr/) developed an innovative floating boom and marine litter collection and recovery system, the 'Tactical Recovery Accumulation System Hellas' (CLEAN TRASH). The marine litter management system is an unparalleled, highly-efficient solution, that actively controls, collects and removes visible litter (mainly macroplastics) at river mouth locations before it can enter into the open sea and affect marine ecosystems. This system is designed to address varying types and sizes of marine litter while utilising a highly efficient storage design that increases collection capacities through the use of multiple layers of alternating compartments. The flexible scalability and tailor-made configurations of the system allow its installation and operation in almost any river mouth location, making the system ideal to combat the influx of single-use plastics resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, while continuing to address the daily marine litter challenge. In early 2019, the pilot prototype built for CLAIM was deployed at the river mouth of the Kifissos river in Piraeus, Greece, where marine litter had become an increasing problem for surrounding shoreline environments and nearby marinas. A continuous (24/7) off-site management of the system and its controls displayed the effectiveness of the system. Full storage compartments were quickly and safely offloaded to an on-land temporary storage where a designated waste company then processed the recovered materials for final disposal. As a result, marine litter presence in the waters and shorelines surrounding the Kifissos mouth significantly decreased, showing the capabilities of the floating boom and marine litter collection and recovery system. CLAIM is also handling the next step of combating plastic pollution - safely transferring collected litter to a treatment device, called pyrolyser. The latter is a small-scale thermal treatment device mounted on boards and integrated into harbours, which transforms solid plastic waste into a combustible gas. The pyrolyser can be used immediately on-site as an energy source for ships and lighting and heating in ports. This technology, suitable for marine litter that cannot be recycled due to contamination and multi-material composition, has been initially developed by the SME IRIS s.r.l. (https://www.irissrl.eu/en/) and it is further advanced and tested within CLAIM. The project's set of generally highly demanded innovative technologies become tools of higher necessity during and after the COVID-19 pandemic for their capacity to continuously contain and remove litter from marine environments. * * * CLAIM receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 774586.

Keywords

marine litter, plastic pollution, clean seas, CLAIM, cleaning technologies, innovative technologies

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Pensoft Publishers

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