Allseas river plastics removal project
As a leading player in the global offshore market working every day at sea, Allseas is concerned about the future of our oceans. Respect for the environment and conducting our operations in a responsible and sustainable manner is one of the core principles at Allseas.
Therefore, we are taking an active stance, taking advantage of our engineering expertise and creative thinking to support the global effort to rid our oceans of plastic. Within the Innovations Department, a team of dedicated engineers is leading the way, developing a system to collect plastics in rivers and waterways before they spread to the seas and oceans.
Allseas is dedicated to the development of a sustainable and cost-effective system to remove plastics from rivers and waterways. We are investigating the dynamics of plastics in rivers by sampling the debris removed from rivers using our own collection systems. With the knowledge gained, we aim to optimise the design and maximise the efficiency of future plastics collection systems. We are presently performing sampling tests in the Nieuwe Maas River in the Netherlands, the dominant discharge branch of the Rhine River into the North Sea, with further tests planned in other waterways throughout Europe.
Our efforts have received EU financial backing in the form of a grant under the LIFE programme, the EU’s funding instrument for environmental and climate action. Over the next three years, our “LIFE SouPLess” project aims to support existing waste management processes, and develop and deploy state-of-the-art plastic identification and recovery tools in support of the EU Water Framework Directive.
In a nutshell, the LIFE SouPLess project aims to:
• Design and deploy sustainable systems to catch plastics in rivers across Europe
• Optimise the efficiency of the systems by predicting hotspots of plastic waste in rivers
• Advise on post-processing of the collected plastic
In addition, the project will:
• Provide information on the amounts and types of plastics present in European rivers
• Provide local authorities with indications on strategic locations to install waste collection systems in rivers
• Contribute to the European Union Water Framework Directive to include plastic as waste
• Contribute to the European Union Circular Economy action plan and the European Union waste Framework Directive by providing input for recycling and re-use of plastic waste, and input for a wider review of waste legislation
The world’s oceans are infested with plastic – more than five trillion pieces at last count, enough to circle the Earth 400 times. Up to 12.5 million tonnes of plastic debris enters the oceans every year. Because of their high durability and nearly indestructible morphology, these synthetic polymers persist in the marine ecosystem where they cause irreversible harm to a great variety of organisms. Degradation of larger plastic items leads to the formation of abundant small microplastics, which are ultimately become ingested by plants, fish and animals, passing durable microscopic contaminants to organisms higher up the food chain.
Increased global production and poor waste management has led to this build-up of plastic litter in the world’s oceans. In the diverse marine habitats, including beaches, the sea surface, water column and seafloor, an estimated 250 million tonnes of plastic debris is present. The flow of plastics into the oceans occurs through a variety of pathways, but rivers are one of the largest contributors. Removing these “plastic soups” from vast water bodies is challenging. One solution to prevent plastic waste from building up in oceans is to catch it in the rivers before they can transport it to the oceans.