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Guided by the impact of plastic pollution at the marine environment, the purpose of the pilot, pioneering project “WE SEA MORE” is to make use of Unmanned Surface Vehicle – (USVs) and remote sensing, for the immediate and valid detection of pollutants - especially plastics - on the coastline, seabed and surface of the sea.
The target audience of the initiative is not restricted. It is a pilot program that meets the needs of a broad audience, providing immediate solutions to the cleaning of marine ecosystems. Public and Private Sector, Global Organizations, Educational & Research Institutions and NGO’s may utilize the scientific research and cutting-edge technology which has been developed during implementation of the program, for the protection of marine ecosystems. The program has positive effects for both people and the environment.
The duration of the program was 3 months (January - March 2020)
Recognizing that there are many aspects to the problem of plastic pollution, two major companies of private sector, have decided to focus on finding and collecting plastic packaging litter in Marine Ecosystems.
In this context, Nestlé Hellas, the world's largest food and beverage company, and Polyeco, the largest waste management organization in Greece and overseas, work towards a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on human and animal life, rivers, seas, oceans, and the environment in general. In an effort to find an efficient way of monitoring and mapping plastic concentrations in the sea bottom and surface of Greece, through the use of knowledge, science and technology, an ambitious plan has come up: The “WE SEA MORE” project.
This pilot project took place during the first 3 months of 2020 in the marine environment of Palaio Faliro, a location of rich economic, geomorphological and anthropocentric interest. Study area was the marine and coastal environment with a total range of one (1) square kilometer, located at "Akti Edem" in the Municipality of Palaio Faliro, where the stream of Pikrodafni flows. Aim of this action was to map the waste by innovative methods on the surface, seabed and coast of the marine ecosystem of the region, as well as its subsequent collection.
The project was implemented in three stages: Waste mapping, collection and subsequent management and recovery of waste.
The mapping stage was carried out in collaboration with the University of the Aegean and the company “UcanDrone”.It is an innovative action that will provide immediate solutions in the clean-up of marine ecosystems. The main tool for extracting and producing information was a constellation of Unmanned Surface Vehicles carrying sensors and cameras. By flying or sailing over the study area the vehicles transmit real-time data that they are programmed to collect.
The recording of the waste was followed by their collection and subsequent segregation according to their qualitative composition. The clean-up of the area lasted a total of one week. The collection of waste on land was carried out by the expertized personnel of Polyeco, while on the seabed, the experienced divers of “Divers’ World” removed the waste that had been marked on maps through the mapping process. Wastes were collected on a daily basis at a specially designed sorting point, where they were sorted into predetermined streams. The waste streams created for their subsequent study were: Plastic, Glass, Metal scrap, Aluminum, Wood, Paper, Batteries-Lighters, Tires, Mixed (materials that cannot be recycled).
Waste Management and Recovery
From the beginning of the project, the aim was to use the collected waste in accordance with the principles of the circular economy. In terms of plastic waste, a total of 132kg was collected, of which 75% - suitable for recycling - became pellets. The large quantities of tires collected from the seabed were taken for recycling to a waste tire management company. Paper and wood waste were used to produce alternative fuels and glass as a raw material for the cement industry. The batteries were recycled in Polyeco's battery management unit while metal scrap was taken to metal recycling plants. The rest of the waste was transferred to Polyeco’s plant for further management and recovery.
During the stages of mapping and waste collection accordingly, has been noted the existence of an arc at the seabed. Specifically, a curve consisting of a large volume of waste, mainly tires, comprised the largest waste stream. Aluminum cans, tampered bags, plastic & glass bottles, batteries, straws, packaging wrappers and supermarket trolleys were some of the main categories of waste that have been collected during the cleaning of Edem Beach.
The program resulted in the collection of 11 tons of waste in total from both the seabed and the coast. More specifically, 11,018kg of waste were collected, of which:
Total quantities of waste per stream
Waste Category Total Weight (kg)
Batteries - lighters 9
Hazardous waste 9
Total weight: 11.018 kg
Study area was the marine and coastal environment with a total range of one square kilometer, located at "Akti Edem" in the Municipality of Palaio Faliro, where the stream of Pikrodafni flows, an area of rich economic, geomorphological and anthropocentric interest.
The WE SEA MORE pilot project is a collaboration of Polyeco and Nestlé Hellas, since synergies are an essential element in our bid to tackle global issues like plastic pollution and climate change.
Decisive role in the successful implemetion of the program played the contribution of Aegean University, Municipality of Palaio Faliro, as well as the companies UCAN DRONE and DIVER’S WORLD.
The project was carried out with the assistance of the Municipality of Palaio Faliro. The on-site waste collection was carried out by specialized staff of Polyeco. Volunteers from both companies, as well as from local community and students of schools in the area, also participated in the cleaning of the coastal zone.
WE SEA MORE, is an innovative action that will provide immediate solutions to the cleaning of marine ecosystems affected and degraded. Global and National organizations, Public and Private Sector, are able to utilize the state-of-the-art technology and scientific knowledge of the program, in order to identify the areas with high concentrations of marine waste , as well as record and map the kind of waste and the quantities, in the shortest possible time.