Toolkit: Marine litter retention, Implementing your project, Recycling and disposal

See also: Litter collection | Litter reception | Project communication | Raising awareness on marine litter | Monitoring marine litter | Complementary activities

Recycling as much of the collected waste as possible may be an important objective for your project. If so, you should discuss waste treatment and recycling options with the waste management company contracted by participating ports. Although you may not have a lot of scope for changing their waste treatment procedures, cost-effective recycling options for at least some categories of marine litter could be agreed with the waste management company. If the waste management company does not have a recycling solution, you could possibly, as lead organisation, investigate other recycling options that could work in your local situation. By continuing discussions with your waste management company, you might be able to reach a solution to recycle some of the marine litter from your project.

One of the projects assessed by the MARELITT team aims to bring the collected marine litter back into the material circle by recycling as many waste fractions as possible. As a first step, the collected litter is manually separated and sorted by project partners on a yearly basis (previously a national take-back system for packaging waste, now regional waste management companies) to determine the exact composition and if possible the origin of litter items. The initial results from the North Sea suggest that around 75% are plastics including fishing nets; the rest consists of metals, rubber, textiles, wood or paper. Metal fractions go directly into recycling. As a second step, the plastic fractions are analysed with regards to their recyclability and quality loss by a specialised university department, who is a partner in the project. The first results of this analysis will be available at the beginning of 2015. The design of special products made from marine litter is envisaged as part of the project.