Collect 10,000 kilograms of plastic waste
Millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans every year. The majority is flushed from land into the oceans by over 1,000 rivers. Organizations like Plastic Fischer are trying to counteract environmental pollution with their project. Since 2021, the nonprofit has been collecting and processing plastic waste from rivers in India and Indonesia. The river cleaning initiative is supported, among others, by Igus GmbH in Cologne, which finances the collection of a total of 10,000 kilograms of plastic waste.
To counteract marine pollution and protect marine biodiversity, the non-profit company Plastic Fischer collects plastic waste from rivers before it can enter the oceans. Plastic Fischer says its approach is up to 300 times more cost-effective than fishing from the ocean. To support this project, Igus is funding the collection of a total of 10,000 kilograms of plastic waste. As a result, 3,340 kilograms could already be collected and processed in Kanpur and Mangaluru (India) in January 2023. This is equivalent to more than 150,000 plastic bags. Through the financial support, at least 34 people could be given a regular income, and on some days helpers were added. Since the initiative began, Plastic Fischer has already collected more than 520 tons of plastic waste in India and Indonesia. Another project in Vietnam is already planned. The work is verified by Empower AS to create transparency and ensure that no kilogram is counted twice.
Triple-L approach: local, low-tech, low-cost
But how does the interception of plastic waste work? Plastic Fischer has developed its own "TrashBooms" for this purpose, which are built from locally available materials at the point of use. This is a modular system that becomes a floating barrier. It consists of a robust steel frame, tubes as floats and a galvanized grid that stops the plastic waste. The local team brings the "TrashBoom" to the selected river, anchors the system, launches it into the water and empties it daily. With this concept, the nonprofit takes a triple-L approach. That is, locally developed (local), low-tech (low-tech) and low-cost (low-cost) solutions are used. Avoiding high-tech imports saves carbon, time and money, and ensures rapid repair and high scalability. It also creates full-time local jobs, which in turn boosts the local economy.
New directions in the circular economy
After waste is collected, the material is sorted. Non-organic material such as plastic and aluminum is taken to the drying station and then compressed using a manual or hydraulic compactor to save space and ensure efficient transportation to the next destination. All recyclable materials are returned to the supply chain. However, most of the plastic waste collected is classified as non-recyclable. Instead of disposing of it in landfills, it is sent for thermal recycling. Here, the material is incinerated and used as an energy source.
In order to increase the recyclability of the collected plastic, Plastic Fischer is looking for alternative solutions and working with local start-ups to achieve this. Igus from Cologne has also made it its goal to drive forward the circular economy for plastics. To this end, the plastics specialist is developing products from regranulated product waste as well as 100 percent recyclate. With "Chainge," Igus has even launched its own recycling initiative for engineering plastics, including an online platform. The company also supports innovative approaches such as the HydroPRS technology from the British start-up Mura Technology. With the help of this innovative technology, plastic waste can be turned into crude oil in just 30 minutes - using only heat, water and pressure.