Cleaning marine litter by applying innovative methods – CLAIM (2017-present)
Cleaning marine Litter by developing and Applying Innovative Methods (CLAIM) is an EU Horizon 2020 project whose remit is to find new ways of tackling pollution in marine areas, with a specific focus on the Mediterranean and the Baltic Seas.
With millions of tons of plastic litter dumped into marine environments, marine litter increased twenty-fold in the last 50 years, according to CLAIM. Now a widely known environmental issue, plastic litter “has been detected worldwide in all major marine habitats, in sizes from microns to meters”, informs Dr Nikoleta Bellou from the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) and one of CLAIM’s coordinators.
IVM is leading a work package in CLAIM with a focus on the social and economic implications of the new technologies being developed. This work package will involve; cost effectiveness analysis, legal and policy frameworks, stakeholder acceptance and public preferences, novel business models. This research will culminate in an integrated assessment of environmental, social and economic impacts of CLAIM technologies.
IVM has a team of four researchers working on CLAIM, two senior staff and two PhD students.
CLAIM scientists explain that the two main points where litter enters the sea are at wastewater treatment plants and at river mouths. Overall, CLAIM will be developing the following five key technological innovations to tackle plastic pollution:
- An automated cleaning device that would be able to filter out micro-plastic and prevent microliter from entering marine areas.
- A photocatalytic device that would degrade common invisible nano-plastics (such as polypropylene and polyethylene) using the power of sunlight.
- The role of floating booms, installed at river mouths and equipped with cameras, would be to collect visible floating pieces before or as they enter the sea.
- An innovative small scale thermal treatment device would use clean plasma technology to pyrolise floating plastic litter, which in turn would produce fuel and recoverable heat to be exploited on marine litter-collecting boats and at port facilities.
- A new filtering system will be developed which would detect micro-plastic in open seas by using ships of opportunity or FerryBoxes.
CLAIM, funded under Horizon 2020 Call BG-07-2017: Blue green innovation for clean coasts and seas began in November 2017 and will run over a period of 3 years, bringing together 19 European institutions. Dr George Triantafyllou from HCMR and one of CLAIM’s coordinators, stresses the importance of adopting an ecosystem approach which “will be at the heart of CLAIM’s research”. And, as he explains further, it is hoped that CLAIM will not only develop innovative marine cleaning technologies, but will also “stress on the importance of healthy oceans and seas for ecosystem services and hence also for society’s wellbeing.”
Prof. Roy Brouwer is leading IVM’s role in CLAIM and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.