Munich-Garching / Hong Kong, 5th of March 2018 – SEEKUH, the world’s first certified waste collection vessel, was presented at a large public reception in Hong Kong at the beginning of February, supported by the German Chamber of Commerce and the globally operating Hong Kong-based group Li & Fung , who organized the reception on February 1 at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM), where Günther Bonin was able to present his concept of “Maritime Garbage Collection” to around 100 interested guests from the politics, administration and economy of Hong Kong. The aim of the media-supported SEEKUH campaign in the Asian city of 7.5 million is to contribute to greater environmental awareness and to promote the concept of “Maritime waste collection” in Asia. The SEEKUH will remain in Hong Kong until the end of March, and will continue its journey at the beginning of April to Singapore.
Hong Kong faces a daily additional volume of more than 9,000 tons of plastic waste! This corresponds to about 360 garbage trucks in a row. An estimated 5.2 million plastic bottles are thrown away every day and many of them sooner or later end up in the sea. Consequently, waters and beaches of the 7.5 million metropolis are heavily polluted.
But it’s not just in Hong Kong like that. Plastic waste is a huge problem worldwide, but especially in Asia. Studies such as those of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (“Rethinking the Future of Plastics”) show that more than 80 percent of the plastic waste that reaches the oceans worldwide comes from Asia. However, this is not about pointing your finger at others. A large number of countries is fighting with poor environmental awareness and an often incomplete infrastructure for waste disposal. Instead, solutions for one of the largest global environmental problems should be identified and addressed on the ground.
The non-profit environmental organization One Earth – One Ocean e.V. (OEOO) from Munich, which has been working on implementing its concept of “Maritime Garbage Collection” for more than six years, has therefore brought its SEEKUH to Asia at the beginning of the year. In mid-January, the garbage collection vessel – transported and sponsored by the logistics group Kühne & Nagel and the shipping company Hamburg Süd – reached its new destination port of Hong Kong disassembled and stowed away in four overseas containers. The fully donated special catamaran for collecting plastic waste has a size of about 12 x 10 meters (L x W) and weighs just under eight tons. In three days, the OEOO team reassembled the catamaran, and was then lowered by crane. Ever since, the unusual-looking ship from Germany has met with great interest among the Hong Kongers.
It is not that the people of Hong Kong have not recognized the problem of plastic waste, as many initiatives and action groups are addressing this issue. But the high population and limited space alone make the problem worse. Therefore, it was all the more interesting for guests of the reception, what Günther Bonin carried out to the concept of the Maritime garbage collection and the two special ships SEEKUH and SEEELEFANT. Of course, one ship alone can not save the world. Our aim was to introduce decision-makers from politics and the local economy to our waste collection concept, which aims to free the oceans and inland waters from plastic waste using garbage collection vessels of different sizes specially developed by OEOO. During the first step, the plastic waste is fished usig special catamarans, and is then sorted and crushed. It is then recycled or reconverted to oil. While waste is still being separated and recycled on land today, OEOO plans to build a self-sufficient energy ship in the coming years – the SEEELEFANT. This converted cargo ship with an oiling system on board produces fuel from plastic garbage and can either be sold to neighboring countries or serve as a mobile gas station on the high seas. At the Hong Kong habour, such a SEEELEFANT could ensure recycling or conversion into energy of plastic form household and industrial waste, as well as the collected plastic waste from the sea. From a ton of pre-sorted plastic garbage about 800 liters of sulfur-free fuel oil can be recovered.
Activities of the SEEKUH in Hong Kong
The highlight of the trip to Hong Kong was the OEOO reception on February 1, 2018 at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. The event was supported by the German Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and the globally operating group Li & Fung, which owns the German cosmetics brand CD. A high-caliber audience of politicians, administrators and economists as well as representatives of other environmental organizations from Hong Kong were invited. While Günther Bonin presented the organization and its concept of “Maritime garbage collection”, the SEEKUH caused a stir right in front of the museum on the Central Pier in the world-famous Victoria Harbour. Holger Borchert, responsible for the activities of the organization OEOO in Asia, is very satisfied: “Numerous interesting encounters and discussions on this evening make me confident that we can successfully implement our goals here in Asia. The first concrete result is discussions with the multinational concern SWIRE (airline Cathay Pacific, real estate, hotels, shipping services, trade) about the possible participation of OEOO in the 21 Pacific Island Project. A really good start! ”
Joint beach cleaning in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s local environmental groups DB-Green and plastic free seas launched a joint beach clean-up campaign to clean a beach area of garbage. Meanwhile, the Seekuh collected the plastic waste from the waves in front of it. 30 garbage bags were filled during the event. A great community effort for the local environment! There will also be close cooperation with several other NGOs from Hong Kong in the future, coordinated by our local OEOO members.
Water analysis on microplastic
There is a fully funtional laboratory on board the SEEKUH with a spectrometer that can be used to analyze water samples to determine not only the amount of microplastic but also which plastics it is. OEOO microbiologist Rüdiger Stöhr, who was also in Hong Kong, will shortly post the analysis on OEOO’s Microplastic Pollution Map (https://oneearth-oneocean.com/der-verein/microplastic-pollution-map/).
Next Stop: Singapore
In the coming weeks, with the strong support of our Hong Kong home port Hebe Haven Yacht Club, numerous classroom events will be taking place to visit the SEEKUH and to be informed on-site about plastic pollution and the ongoing OEOO “Marine Litter Clean-Up Campaign”. In addition, local environmental organizations are giving lectures on the daily avoidance of plastic waste and other collection campaigns. On numerous collecting trips in the waters around Hong Kong, the Seekuh will collect not only garbage, but also pollution data. Supported by local media, it should increase public awareness.
The catamaran will remain on site until the end of March to continue its journey to Singapore on the deck of a container ship owned by our sponsor Hamburg Süd in early April. From mid-April to mid-May, it will be up to Singapore’s politics, economists and people to learn about OEOO’s visions and efforts for a plastic-free water world.
One Earth – One Ocean e. V.
The environmental organization One Earth – One Ocean e.V., headquartered in Munich Garching has the goal to clear water from plastic waste, but also oil and pollutants. On the world’s oceans giant plastic garbage floats are already floating around, the largest of which in the Pacific is as big as Central Europe, i. such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Luxembourg, Hungary and the Czech Republic. If pollution continues to advance at the current rate, the oceans will be completely overgrown in a few years’ time. Founder of One Earth – One Ocean (OEOO) is Günther Bonin, former owner of an IT company and avid sailor. His vision of “maritime waste collection” is divided into several stages: In a first step, the plastic waste is collected, sorted and shredded on the seas using specially developed devices. Separation and recycling of the waste takes place ashore. At a later stage, the collected plastic is to be reconverted directly into oil on board tankers. From one ton of plastic about 800 liters of oil can be recovered. Since 2015, Bonin has redesigned its IT company into a water purification company to provide administrative support to the association. What sounds like the utopia of an idealist now takes concrete forms. More than 100 companies and private individuals, including the Röchling Foundation and the German Telekom AG, support the project in different ways. Thomas Hahn, who co-designed the winning ship of the America’s Cup at BMW Oracle, also supports OEOO in the development of garbage chute ships. In the spring of 2018 SEEKUH will be operating in Hong Kong.
In 2013, One Earth – One Ocean e.V. was awarded the prestigious GreenTec Award 2013, Europe’s largest environmental and business award, for its concept of Maritime Waste Collection. In 2016, followed the nomination for the Federal Ecodesign Award, the highest honor for ecological design in Germany. Finally, in 2018, the club was nominated for the Ocean Tribute Award by Prince Albert II of Monaco, who honors the most innovative and sustainable marine conservation ideas.
For more information, visit https://www.oneearth-oneocean.com or visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Earth-One-Ocean/163573257046660