One Earth – One Ocean e.V. has with the “Marine Litter Cleanup” a comprehensive and pragmatic concept for the collection and sustainable use of marine waste. The concept provides for the collection, sorting and processing of plastic with special waste collection vessels in coastal areas and estuaries. In addition to plastic bales for recycling, energy and fuel will also be recovered from plastic waste.
Marine Litter Cleanup comprises two waste collection vessels of different sizes for use on inland waters or oceans, which in a few years will collect plastic waste from the waters, partly fully automatically and driven by modern wind and solar technologies. The plastic waste at sea is finally taken to the waste recycling ship SeeElefant where it is recycled or converted into sulphur-free heating oil.
With the concept of “Marine Litter Cleanup”, One Earth – One Ocean wants to call on people to actively combat the urgent problem of marine littering.
The first project in 2012 and the smallest unit of the “Maritime Garbage Collection” are SeeHamsters, small catamarans about four metres long and two metres wide and a fold-down net or fishing gear with which plastic garbage from inland waters is collected.
In 2019, the fifth improved generation of SeeHamster ships will be put into operation in Cambodia. SeeHamsters for cleaning inland waterways are in use in both Germany and Asia and prove that the concept of “Marine Litter Cleanup” works.
In autumn 2016, the first SeeKuh was launched in Lübeck. The ship, also based on the catamaran shape, has a size of 12 x 10 meters and will clean bays, estuaries and coastal sections. Between the two hulls specially designed nets with meshes of 2.5 cm size are suspended. These collect the plastic waste up to 4 meters deep. Two tonnes of garbage can currently be collected per trip or net.
The SeeKuh has two engines, which are conventional in the prototype, but are to be powered by solar or wind power in the future. With a speed up to two knots the SeeKuh rides at a walking speed. This is not only energy-efficient, but gives larger marine animals the chance to avoid the net, while small organisms are going through the meshes.
In addition to collecting plastic waste, water analyzes on board are another important aspect. On deck, there is a small laboratory where water samples can be examined directly with an infrared spectrometer on plastic to find out what kind of plastic the SeeKuh is collecting. SeeKuh is also the first seaworthy research-, purification- and reconnaissance vessel worldwide to be licensed by DNV / GL (kind of TÜV for ships).
The SeeElefant is a multi-purpose vessel converted into an energy ship, which will be stationed at sea. It takes over the marine waste collected by the SeeKuh vessels with on-board cranes. The waste is then treated, sorted and processed using the plant technology integrated into the ship. In addition to single-variety plastic bales for recycling, energy and oil will also be recovered from the plastic waste in the future.
The entire plant technology of the SeeElefant was designed in a standard container grid. Thanks to this modular design, the system is scalable and can be flexibly adapted to the conditions on site.
The plastic bales as well as the fuel are stored in the cargo holds and tanks of the ship. For the process of plastic oiling, about 20 to 30 percent of the fuel produced is consumed, the rest can be sold directly to ships or settlements on the route. The proceed helps to finance a part of the project. According to calculations by One Earth – One Ocean e.V., two employees can collect about 200 tonnes of plastic waste a day.
PURE saturated with oil can be pressed out with the simplest means and reused many times. This causes much less waste than conventional binders. It also does not sink and pollute the sea bottom.
By the way, PURE was recently awarded the European Inventory Prize 2017 by the European Patent Office as an outstanding invention.