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Investment in smart waste collection equals investment in a more sustainable future

Source: Port of Rotterdam Authority

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is collaborating with various parties on the development of clever solutions for collecting waste in the Rotterdam port. Entirely in line with Rotterdam’s ambition to become the ‘most sustainable port in the world’, the partners are unfurling innovative new ‘smart waste collection’ initiatives for the port area.

Approach

A clean and sustainable port is not only important for our environment; it also impacts the quality of life of people living and working in the region. As a signatory to the Kunststof Ketenakkoord (Chain Agreement on Recycling Plastic), the Port Authority strives to realise a visible reduction of plastic litter in the sea and inland waters by 2020. A tangible example is the opportunity for sea-going vessels to offload their ships’ waste at the port reception facilities. Here, waste materials like recyclable plastics are collected by certified ships’ waste collection firms. As Kenny Baas of Bek & Verburg B.V., which specialises in collecting ships’ waste, explains: “The ultimate objective is a shorter ships’ waste chain. Among other things, this can be achieved by increasing the volume of ships’ waste collected at the source. In addition, we coordinate with the ships to determine the best time for collecting the maximum volume of waste. Certain materials in the ships’ waste are separated from the general stream – clean recyclable plastic, for instance. This allows for the efficient re-use of recyclable materials, since they can easily be converted into new raw materials.” Bek & Verburg B.V. operates 22 waste collection units, which every day collect the waste of some 100 to 120 vessels.

Turn plastic ships’ waste into useful products like garden furniture or road markers? It’s possible. Ron van Gelder of the Port of Rotterdam Authority’s Harbour Master division explains: “Waste is generally seen in a negative light. Which is a shame, since there’s a lot you can still do with it. Why not recycle it? Instead of burning clean plastic waste – which simply costs money – you can also sell it for a profit.”

“We have a common objective: a clean sea. And that’s what we are fighting for: to clean up the port as far as possible – and keep it clean.”

Kenny Baas, Bek & Verburg B.V.

Projects

Over the past few years, the Port Authority and its partners in the Netherlands’ marine sector have made considerable progress. They are jointly investing in efficient and sustainable ways to collect ships’ waste and reduce the volume of plastic waste in the port area. A good example of their efforts in this area is the signing of the Ships’ Waste Green Deal on 10 September 2014. The main objective of this Green Deal is to reduce the volume of waste on board ships through better agreements regarding their restocking. In addition, separating plastic waste at the source – on board the ship – also significantly improves our options to recycle it. Moreover, strict supervision and enforcement play a vital role in limiting marine litter within and beyond the port area as far as possible.

Every year, fish eat between 12 and 24 million kilograms of plastic. Of course, this development harms the animals themselves, but it is also detrimental to human health and the environment. The 2015 initiative Port Waste Catch is intended to reduce this so-called ‘plastic soup’. The initiative focuses on litter floating out at sea, around three-quarters of which is plastic waste. The Port of Rotterdam Authority acknowledges the importance of working closely together to make the social environment of the port areas more sustainable – and keep it that way. The Port Authority has teamed up with the private sector, knowledge institutes, students, scientists and – naturally – partners from the marine sector to determine the best development paths for the Port Waste Catch initiative.

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