Currently, the Circular Explorer is being dismantled into its individual parts in Lübeck and stowed in containers to transport it and a SeeHamster to Manila. There, the ships will be reassembled and start cleaning Manila Bay at the beginning of next year.
To mark the occasion, we interviewed Daniel Scheler, the project manager of our new cleaning project in the Philippines.
Daniel, you are the project manager of the new cleaning project in the Philippines that oeoo will start together with Holcim. When will it start?
Strictly speaking, the project has already started in the summer of 2021. The Circular Explorer was ceremonially christened in Hamburg’s museum harbour in the summer and put through its paces on the Baltic Sea in recent months. However, the planned work in Manila will not start until January 2022.
How will the Circular Explorer be transported to Manila Bay? And why did you choose this particular location?
Manila Bay is one of the most polluted bodies of water in the world. Plastic inputs into the ocean are very high here and something needs to be done immediately to change the devastating situation on the ground. For this reason, the Circular Explorer will be dismantled into its modules, packed into containers and shipped to Manila, where it will be reassembled by a technical team on site.
What will be your job in Manila? Are you the captain? Who will work on site?
The three focal points of the new project are the marine litter cleanup, i.e. the collection and sorting of plastic waste, as well as education and science. As project leader, I am responsible for coordinating the overall project and focusing on the set priorities.
On site, I will certainly also take on the tasks of a captain at first. For I will teach local captains how to steer this unique ship with its special propulsion both efficiently and safely.
In addition to the local captains, we will hire other, exclusively Filipino staff to help with sorting the rubbish and with administrative and office work.
How long will the project last and what is the goal?
Our goal is to collect as much rubbish as possible on its way to the ocean and bring it to recycling. But an even more important goal is to find ways to bring us closer to a circular economy. Because that’s the only way we can really be part of the solution.
The funding for the project is in place for a period of three years. I hope we can find more funding beyond that, because it will take far more than 3 years to completely rid Manila Bay of plastic.
The Circular Explorer is to become the flagship of an entire local collection fleet. Together with Circular Explorer a particularly large sea hamster will also be transported to Manila. What other ships are planned?
As part of the globally operating Marine Litter Cleanup, Circular Explorer and the large Sea Hamster form a local team, which can be expanded by additional ships at any time. The bigger the fleet, the more we can achieve there.
A first SeeElefant to support the entire Marine Litter Cleanup would be an even bigger step in the right direction. This goal seems to be within reach. I hope that very soon other companies will follow Holcim’s example to build more ships with us. Because this is the only way we can actually create something big, by talking less and implementing more!
In this project, for the first time, not only rivers are cleaned, but open waters. What are the technical differences to the oeoo projects so far?
In contrast to the previous projects, this time we are working across the entire width of the ship with so-called “guard rails” (these are special guide plates), a conveyor belt and a large sorting table. This way we can collect and sort up to 4 tonnes of plastic waste per day.
The Circular Explorer is very flexible due to its shallow draft and can be used on open waters, inland waters and on the beach to collect waste. It is also used as a platform for education, science and networking events.
What happens to the plastic waste that is collected there? Do you only collect on the water or also on the beaches?
The waste is sorted by our trained staff on board and loaded into big bags. This makes it easier to unload and transport. If necessary, we can process the rubbish further on land before handing it over to trustworthy recycling companies. One of these companies, for example, makes school furniture from the plastic waste.
Thank you Daniel and have a good start in Manila!