Last Friday 8 July, a marine litter collection and recycling live demonstration was organized by Member of European Parliament Alain Cadec, waste sorting center Kerval Centre Armor and the Waste Free Oceans foundation in Erquy, France. Over 50 participants took part in the event and represented both international and local plastics industry companies, environmental organizations, European institutions and associations.
“Thanks to Waste Free Oceans, the trawl will remain in Erquy to serve on a regular basis for marine litter cleanup operations”, said Alain Cadec, Member of the European Parliament and Champion of the foundation since 2014, who has previously underlined the importance of collaborating with fishermen to collect floating marine debris.
“This demonstration is a concrete local example of circular economy, in which fishermen hold the important role of collecting marine litter which will then be recycled”. The event was of particular significance to Alain Cadec who is also Chairman of the Department of Côtes d’Armor’s Council Assembly. As Chairman of the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament and rapporteur of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, Alain Cadec explained: "This is a concrete example of the benefits of Europe. Decisions on funding local development in coastal areas is made by the local actors themselves through the EMFF [European Maritime and Fisheries Fund]."
Local fishermen from the Fisheries Committee of the Department of Côtes d’Armor demonstrated the use the WFO trawl to collect floating litter along the port of Erquy. The trawl was initially developed by exfisherman Thierry Thomazeau to clean oil spills and was later adapted to collect floating debris. The collected waste was then brought to the sorting center Généris, where participants were able to track the waste through the sorting mechanisms of Kerval Centre Armor during a guided tour of the facility. For the first time, this allowed those present to be a part of the next steps of this closing the loop scheme.
Since 2015, the Department of Côtes d’Armor is a certified “Zero-waste territory” and Thierry Burlot, Chairman of Kerval Centre Armor, explained: “Through this certification, our territory is part of a collaborative action to stop perceiving waste as a constraint, but rather as a locally useable resource. As a maritime territory, it is essential that we collectively tackle the topic of waste in its preventive and curative aspects.” Bernard Merkx, Co-founder of WFO, stated that “WFO is very pleased that the region, with the help of Kerval Centre Armor, is putting into practice what WFO lobbies and stands for: collaborations with local fishermen on cleanup operations with the possibility of co-funding by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.”
Bringing together the local community to help fight marine litter and improve recycling rates in the area will hopefully inspire other regions to also take similar action.