Ethical Performance
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Circular Ocean initiative to encourage green enterprise

December 2015

Companies and academic bodies are to be asked to propose new action on the millions of tons of plastic waste being washed up on northern European shores.

Specialist companies and others will share their ideas online with the objective of adding to the use already being made of plastic irresponsibly ditched at sea. At present some marine litter is recycled to make items such as socks, rucksacks, skateboards and sunglasses.

The project, called Circular Ocean, is the initiative of the Environmental Research Institute of the North Highland College of the University of the Highlands and Islands at Thurso on Scotland’s north coast.

The Circular Ocean project will promote social enterprises that can benefit from the circular economy, and assist coastal and rural communities in the development of new sources of livelihood, while reducing marine waste and enhancing the quality of life in the region, and developing best practice which can be applied to the rest of Europe.

The institute is running the project with the Arctic Technology Centre in Greenland and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, as well as organisations in the UK and the Irish Republic.

Dr Neil James, a research associate at the institute, said: “Virtually all plastic ever produced is still with us today, with more entering the seas each year to the detriment of fish, birds, turtles and marine mammals.

“If we utilise this so-called waste material for a new purpose, we reduce the amount of new plastic created, reduce marine pollution, and encourage new green enterprises.

“Our aim in Circular Ocean is to facilitate this in the northern Europe and Arctic region.”

A parallel project at the institute is investigating using spent grain from Scottish whisky distilleries in clearing radioactivity from the nearby Dounreay nuclear energy site, now largely decommissioned.

A scientific team has begun tests on using the grain, along with seaweed, crab shells and coffee grounds, to absorb Strontium-90, the radioactive isotope in waste from the nuclear processes.

The radioactive material is in a 214ft shaft and a concrete bunker, which was added after an explosion in the shaft. The process, called biosorption, has previously been employed to extract traces of gold and silver from sewage.

Team leader Mike Gearhart reported: “We still have a number of issues to address but results to date have been very promising.”

Further information: Ocean.pdf

UK & NI Ireland | Recycling


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