Water treatment Membranes Europe

5 European companies helping to clean up the oceans

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Addressing the environmental impact of CED

This week saw the celebration of the 2020 World Ocean Day, when world leaders were called upon to protect 30 per cent of our blue planet by 2020. To clean up plastics in oceans, it needs more than world leaders: multiple teams, innovators and innovations.

Here we check out five start-ups from Europe.

1. Ocean Cleanup

The Dutch based non-profit organisation has set out with a focused mission to collect 90 per cent of plastic from the oceans by 2040. At the end of last year the organisation announced it had developed the first “scalable solution to efficiently intercept plastics in rivers before it reaches the oceans”. The solar powered floating system, developed in conjunction with consultancy Arcadis, has been designed to collect plastic waste autonomously. Ocean Cleanup is perhaps the best known start-up in this area. Young founder and CEO, Boyan Slat, has become a posterchild for ocean plastics clean ups.

2. Ichthion

Born out of an idea developed at London’s Imperial College, Ichthion’s solution removes large volumes of plastics from rivers and oceans. The company has developed three types of technology streams: Azure, Cobalt and Ultramarine. Azure is an enhanced barrier designed to be deployed in rivers to prevent plastic waste from reaching marine environments. Cobalt meanwhile is a self-cleaning system that uses the “motion of infrastructure to extract plastic pollution from fluvial and marine environments”. And the final technology is designed to be retrofitted to large shipping vessels. The company won the global ‘Cutting River Plastic Waste’ competition, with Coca-Cola as one of the sponsors.

3. The Great Bubble Barrier

Born in 2017, The Great Bubble Barrier catches waste in rivers and canals to prevent it reaching the oceans. Animal and ship friendly, the solution involves a barrier of bubbles that push waste objects to the surface and along to the riverbeds, where they can be picked up and taken to recycling facilities. The barrier is a long, perforated tube that runs diagonally for 60 metres across the bottom of canals. The first Bubble Barrier was installed in November 2019 in a canal of Amsterdam, commissioned by the Regional Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht and the municipality of Amsterdam. Three of the founders are Dutch amateur sailors and friends, Anne Marieke Eveleens, Francis Zoet and Saskia Studer. They won the €500,000 Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge award to help kickstart the project.

4. River cleaning

The company started in 2018 in Veneto, Italy with the mission to prevent plastic waste from reaching the seas/oceans. The designed River Cleaning System consists of a diagonal line of floating rotating cog-type devices that move intercepted waste across the rivers. As the devices spin, they pass the waste along the chain until it reaches the storage areas beside the river. No power is required, as the cogs use the energy “directly from the river”. The company believes that we much “act on the problem” before plastic debris flows from the rivers to the seas and reach the great pacific garbage patch.

5. Searious Business

Another Dutch start-up on the list, Searious Business has secured some serious partners since it began in 2016, including Unilever, Heineken and National Geographic. While not a “clean up” operation like the others in the list, this company instead helps to create a circular use of plastic for major brands wishing to lower their plastic footprint. The organisation works to help companies build and accelerate their sustainability targets through a combination of material changes and shift in business models. Other major partners include Danone and Vodafone.

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