Plastic pellet pollution challenge launched

A plastic problem The Port of Antwerp aims to tackle legacy pollution in the form of plastic pellets. Image: Port of Antwerp
Industry Database

A European port has launched a challenge to find the ideal solution for plastic pellet pollution.

The Port of Antwerp has issued the "Plastic Challenge" with a prize of €10,000 for the most creative, promising and feasible idea that will tackle legacy pollution from the use of plastic pellets.

The river Scheldt continuously brings down floating litter which due to tidal action tends to be deposited on a stretch of foreshore known as the Galgeschoor. This nature conservation site within the port area is affected by legacy pollution in the form of plastic pellets that are spilled during handling on land or onboard ships. Over time they have accumulated and become trapped in vegetation or mud adjoining the foreshore, making them difficult to find and remove.

In addition to the fact that the area is kept in constant motion by the tides, the challenge is also made more complex by the need to protect the unique flora and many species of birds.

The port is already tackling the problem at source. In October 2017, it teamed up with the entire plastics industry to introduce the "Operation Clean Sweep" charter with the objective of zero pellet loss. The participating companies strive to reduce pellet loss to the absolute minimum.

Weekly monitoring activities give a better picture of the places where plastic pellets tend to escape, thus enabling the problem to be dealt with at source. While implementation of the plan helped reduce plastic levels from current activities, it also served to highlight legacy pollution.

The deadline for proposal submissions is 30 September.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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