MAELSTROM’s International Workshop and Clean up: two days dedicated to the marine litter community and more than 1,300 Kgs of litter collected! 

While some of our team members were busy organizing the demonstration event of our Robotic Seabed Cleaning Platform held in Venice on June 9th, some others have brilliantly set the third edition of the International Workshop on “Removal of Marine Litter and Circular Economic: Challenges and Opportunities held on June 1st as a side event of Venice’s International Boat Show.

The International Workshop was co-organized by MAELSTROM and In-No-Plastic EU funded projects and coordinated by the Venice Lagoon Plastic Free Association, partner at both projects; the event saw the special participation from other EU-funded projects, namely: ENDURUNS, HE SEACLEAR 2.0, Life DREAM and HE WINBLUE.  

As every year, the meeting represented a valuable opportunity to compare and exchange experiences and knowledge with a large international audience of experts in the field of marine litter monitoring, removal, and recycling: scientists, as well as representatives from industry and society, came together to understand how to achieve the EU Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters, which aims to restore the health of aquatic ecosystems through innovation and research, but also through targeted investment and citizen involvement. 

 What knowledge do we have regarding marine litter data, its concentration hotspots, and environmental impacts? Which technologies are available or being developed to sustainably remove marine litter, without causing more harm? Once removed, can we transform and recycle marine litter in a circular economy perspective, generating low CO2 emissions? Which are moreover the current challenges in marine litter management, but also which issues and opportunities does it pose, for example in terms of women’s employment and empowerment in developing countries? 

These were some of the topics of several round tables and interaction moments provided during the workshop, which proceedings will be made available soon. 

The following day, MAELSTROM ‘s team was on the field with a cleanup activity in the Venetian canals and small islands, organized by our partner Venice Lagoon Plastic Free, in collaboration with the WWF Plastic Smart Cities program, the Italian Red Cross and Fare Verde and Poseidon associations. During the morning, a hundred volunteers helped to collect and to classify litter in different areas of the lagoon. The data collected was shared with the local administration, contributing to the waste management efforts being made.

This, too, is not a new experience for MAELSTROM: better management of marine litter, in fact, requires common identification procedures among all levels of society; that is why, every year, we organize clean ups in Italy and Portugal that allow us to raise awareness on these topics among waste management actors, public and private institutions, civil society and citizens. And, like every year, the amount of litter collected during our clean-ups is impressive: in fact, as our partner VLPF reports, in the three areas where the clean-up took place (Secca di S. Alvise, Isola del Lazzaretto Nuovo, and Sottopasso Cavalcavia di Mestre-Vempa), more than 1,300 kilos of litter were collected in just one morning! Most of it was tracked with the MAELSTROM App, a tool developed by our team that follows collected litter through the management and recycling processes until its new life.  Materials from the cleanup, as well as those removed by the removal technologies developed by MAELSTROM – the Robotic Seabed Cleaning Platform and the Bubble Barrier – go through chemical and mechanical recycling processes, becoming new industrial materials or finalized objects, such as urban furniture, of which we will be talking more in the next months!  

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