Setting the course for maritime plastic waste recycling

Setting the course for maritime plastic waste recycling

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Setting the course for maritime plastic waste recycling

The SeeElefant from one earth-one ocean receives important certificate

Munich/Kiel, December 5, 2023 – The leading international classification society Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore (BV), headquartered in Paris, has awarded the planned waste recycling vessel “SeeElefant” from one earth-one ocean (oeoo) the “Approval in Principle” certificate following a thorough inspection on November 8, 2023. This confirms that the inspected documents comply with the rules of the classification society and that the conditions for intactness and leak stability of the 180m bulker in transit mode, i.e. in ship operation, are fully met.

Rolf Stiefel, Head of Central Europe at BV, explains: “The SeeElefant has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the elimination of plastic waste on coasts and beaches. As a classification society, we are delighted to be involved in this pioneering project from the very beginning.

“NSB Niederelbe Schiffahrtsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG from Buxtehude is also literally on board with this globally unique sustainability project as a shipping company,” assures its CCO Markus Thewes.

The development team led by oeoo CEO Günther Bonin presented the initial design of the bulk carrier, automatic plastic sorting system and waste-to-energy system back in spring. With a daily processing capacity of 200 tons of plastic waste from waterways and households, the SeeElefant is a pilot system that can work perfectly in the coastal waters off metropolitan regions due to its easy scalability and mobility in order to effectively counteract the global flood of plastic on a regional level.

Now that the basic solutions for the ship and plant technology are in place, the next step is to establish the overall financing of EUR 50 million for the first recycling ship. Together with an experienced consulting firm, financing is being sought from subsidies from the “Green Deal”/European Innovation Fund and customized loans from European development banks. Further funds from the German shipyard subsidy program “Innovative shipbuilding secures jobs” can be integrated.

“We have already received very positive signals from potential financiers and are optimistic that we will reach the next milestone in April 2024 with the submission of the EU funding applications,” says project manager Dr. Harald Frank. “If the schedule is implemented as planned, the SeeElefant will be ready for its first trials in 2026.”

“We are already thinking about scaling up the SeeElefant systems in order to make an effective contribution to reducing plastic waste and boosting recycling,” says oeoo founder Günther Bonin. And he adds: “This requires further technical and financial partners, particularly from industry, who want to drive this project forward together with us.”

About one earth – one ocean e. V. (oeoo)

The non-profit environmental organization one earth – one ocean e.V.(oeoo), based in Munich and with offices in Kiel, Battambang/Cambodia, Manila/Philippines and Rio/Brazil, has been pursuing the goal of ridding the world’s waters of plastic waste since 2011. The multi-stage “Maritime Waste Disposal” concept for eliminating coastal marine pollution caused by plastic waste envisages – in addition to processing land-based plastic waste – collecting the plastic from waters around the world using a fleet of special waste collection ships and then recycling it on recycling ships such as the SeeElefant. Projects to remove plastic waste from bodies of water are currently underway in Cambodia, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Uganda and Egypt. Specially designed waste collection ships called SeeHamster and SeeKuh are used for this purpose. From 2026, the first “SeeElefant”, a converted multi-purpose freighter that will have systems for sorting, shredding, processing and pressing marine waste on board, will be the first pilot system for a waste recycling ship. As soon as industrial-scale plastics-to-fuel plants are available, plastic will also be converted back into sulphur-free oil directly on board. The association is also involved nationally and internationally in research into microplastics as well as educational and awareness-raising work and documentation on the subject of marine litter. Back in 2013, oeoo won the prestigious GreenTec Award, Europe’s largest environmental and business prize, for its maritime waste collection concept. In 2019, the association received the Federal Ecodesign Award from the Federal Ministry for the Environment for its SeeElefant waste recycling ship concept. Further information about oeoo and its current projects can be found at .

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