Feasibility study and implementation concept for investors completed:
Munich Garching / Kiel, May 22, 2019 – On behalf of One Earth – One Ocean e.V. (OEOO), a team of experts including ship designers, plant engineers, environmental engineers, and project developers has developed over the past ten months an implementation concept for the elimination of coastal marine pollution caused by plastic waste and demonstrated its technical, economic, and legal feasibility. The conception phase was financially supported by the nonprofit Röchling Foundation. The “Marine Litter Cleanup” for the collection of plastic waste from the oceans is the central project of the nonprofit organization One Earth – One Ocean e.V. (OEOO). The search for investors thus begins, looking for economic participants in the construction of the first pilot system “SeeElefant”, required to tackle the problem of plastic waste actively and pragmatically.
It is not necessary to emphasize that plastic waste in the worldwide waters is one of the most serious environmental problems of our global society. It is estimated that more than 140 million tons are already found in the world’s oceans and that at least 10-15 million tons are added every year. Forecasts predict that by 2025 the volume of marine litter will have doubled. The present failure of The Ocean Cleanup offshore cleaning concept of the Dutchman Boyan Slat shows once again that practicable solutions for the removal of marine plastic waste are still lacking.
For more than eight years the environmental organization One Earth – One Ocean e.V. (OEOO) gathers operation experience with its “Marine Litter Cleanup“. It is reflected in the comprehensive research and concept study now presented. The included business plan indicates the development of significant parameters over a 10-year period. The results of this study confirm the technical, economic, and legal feasibility of the pilot system “SeeElefant”. This pilot system for use in river estuaries and coastal areas is a central building block in Günther Bonin’s OEOO concept of “Marine Litter Cleanup”.
The topic of plastic waste in the oceans is omnipresent today, yet viable concepts that can be implemented to quickly combat marine plastic waste are still missing. “Utopias don’t help us reach our goal” explains Günther Bonin, founder of the organization One Earth – One Ocean e.V., who was recently honored by Gruner & Jahr for his work. “Our concept is a well thought-out and pragmatic approach that has already been partially tested and continuously optimized. Now we want to take the next big step”.
Marine Litter Cleanup
The concept of “Marine Litter Cleanup” foresees a fleet of special workboats with conveying equipment required to collect plastic waste from the sea. These so-called “SeeKuh” – a first SeeKuh has been in use since 2017, a second one is currently being built – bring the collected plastic waste to the “SeeElefant”.
The “SeeElefant” is a converted multi-purpose ship with on-board facilities for sorting, crushing, processing, and pressing of marine plastic waste. The sorted sea plastic will be pressed on board into bales of mono-material plastic and later recycled. Collected composite material and wood can be thermally recycled, thus providing the energy for plant operation. In a few years – with the availability of depolymerization facilities suitable for industrial use – plastic will be converted into oil directly on board. The pilot system aims to achieve a processing capacity of about 20 t/day. In further expansion stages, this system will be developed for commercial operators with a capacity of up to 200 t/day.
Marine plastic is thus not garbage but a valuable material. The resulting bales are sorted and consist of e.g. polyethylene, polypropylene, or PET marine plastic. They will be sold and thus returned to the recycling process.
“Our primary economic goal is to fully cover the costs of the pilot system”, says project manager Dr. Harald Frank, “but it is also possible to exceed the break-even point by increasing the volumes of collected plastic waste or marketable bales of secondary raw material to 40 tons per day in the medium term”.
The comprehensive business plan included in the feasibility study shows the development of all significant parameters over a 10-year period. The investment costs for the pilot system can be limited to approx. EUR 11.2 million by using a secondhand multi-purpose ship as SeeElefant, market-proven machinery for recycling, and the proven waste collection technology the catamaran SeeKuh is equipped with.
“Driven by the rapidly growing quantities of marine plastic waste, we at One Earth – One Ocean were working on technical solutions for water protection since 2011”, explains Günther Bonin, founder and CEO of the award-winning environmental organization. “With the completion and publication of the feasibility study titled Pilot System SeeElefant, an important milestone on the road to Marine Litter Cleanup has now been successfully completed. Courageous and potent partners are now required to support our concept and help us to actively tackle the problem of marine plastic waste – at last. Time is short!”.
Search for partners and investors from industry and science begins
Now that verifiable and unbiased facts and figures exist, Günther Bonin and Harald Frank start a targeted search for investors and partners from industry and science in order to execute the ambitious implementation plan over the next 18 months.
The global annual damage caused by marine plastic waste is estimated by the UN at USD 13 billion. Long-term effects and consequential damage to humans, animals, and ecosystems – in particular from microplastics in the food chain – are hereby not even taken into account, as they are largely unexplored and therefore not quantifiable.
The One Earth – One Ocean cleaning concept focuses on primarily on hotspots such as river estuaries and coastal areas, where the pollution concentrations are highest and the plastic waste is still relatively unsplit and floating on the surface, often forming actually a waste carpet. Accessibility, logistics, and the supply of energy required for waste collection are all controllable here. Examples are the estuaries of top polluted rivers such as the Yangtze, Ganges, Brantas, Mekong, or Pasig and the coasts of the megacities Jakarta, Hong Kong, or Rio.
One Earth – One Ocean (OEOO) is sticking to its oil conversion technology for processing maritime PP and PE fractions. In the first step, however, plastics-to-fuel facilities are missing in the pilot system because the technology is not yet ready for industrial use. For OEOO, however, this is not a show stopper, as the maritime PE and PP fractions can be processed into high-quality bales after sorting. The decisive factor for OEOO is rather the prompt start of the clean-up work, i.e. the quickly as possible removal of the plastic waste from the sea.
“Our vision of a global maritime waste disposal moves closer”, said Günther Bonin during the presentation of the feasibility study. At the same time, he is certain that in just a few years the innovative plastics-to-fuel technology will be available, significantly increasing the economic attractiveness of “Marine Litter Cleanup”.
An animation of the OEOO “Marine Litter Cleanup” and the OEOO SeeElefant can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KbxZDiMZw4 .
One Earth – One Ocean e. V.(OEOO)
The environmental organization One Earth – One Ocean (OEOO) based in Munich/Garching and Kiel has the goal of freeing waters of the plastic waste, oil, and other pollutants. Already today the pollution of the seas with plastic waste reaches alarming proportions. If we do not take countermeasures, the weight of plastic waste will exceed that of fish by 2050, according to a UN study.
OEOO has therefore been working since 2011 on the implementation and testing of its pilot concept for “Marine Litter Cleanup”. OEOO founder Günther Bonin is the former owner of a successful IT company and a passionate sailor since his youth. His concept is staggered: In a first step, the plastic waste is collected by special waste collection ships on waterways. Sorting and bundling of the waste takes place on board of a converted multi-purpose ship. Recycling is carried out by disposers on land. Sorted recyclable plastics are pressed into bales of mono plastic materials. Plastic waste will be converted to energy and oil in the future. About 800 liters of oil can be recovered from one ton of plastic.
What initially sounded like the utopia of an idealist is now turning reality, taking on concrete forms. Collection ships of various sizes are now in operation in the Baltic Sea, Hong Kong, and Cambodia. A feasibility study for the SeeElefant pilot system was presented in the spring of 2019 and will be implemented by 2021. Well-known companies and private individuals, including Röchling Stiftung GmbH, Deutsche Telekom AG, and Daimler AG, support OEOO in different ways.
In 2013, OEOO was awarded the renowned GreenTec Award, Europe’s largest environmental and business prize, for its concept of “Marine Litter Cleanup”. In 2016, OEOO was nominated for the German federal award “eco-design”, the highest award for ecological design in Germany. In 2018, OEOO was nominated for the Ocean Tribute Award by Prince Albert II of Monaco, honoring the most innovative and sustainable ideas on marine conservation. In 2019 Günther Bonin received the Special Prize of the Gruner & Jahr Spa Award.
Further information can be found at https://www.oneearth-oneocean.com/en/ or in Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Earth-One-Ocean/163573257046660
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Röchling Foundation GmbH
The Röchling Foundation is dedicated to Plastics & the Environment. It supports both research projects and civil initiatives that contribute to the responsible use of plastics, towards a sustainable circular recycling economy. The Röchling Foundation is not merely a funding partner but is above all interested in establishing new cross-sector co-operations and networks.
Similarly, the foundation also initiates its own activities that contribute to a holistic understanding and integrated solutions to the global challenge of Plastics & the Environment.
The Röchling Foundation was established 1990 by the Röchling family. The family also owns the Röchling Group, one of the world’s leading suppliers of high-performance plastics for automotive engineering, industrial applications, and medical technology.