Can innovative projects turn the tide on plastic litter in our seas? | DW Documentary

Every single minute, two truckloads of plastic are dumped into rivers and seas across the globe. This huge tide of refuse is having a catastrophic impact. New recycling methods and sustainable alternatives could help to get a grip on the problem.

In the western German city of Cologne, an association called KRAKE has brought the first floating litter collector to a German river. The specially-designed construction traps trash floating in the River Rhine, such as sneakers, plastic bottles and plastic pellets. Every time its volunteer workers empty the giant basket, they help to reduce the volume of plastic carried into the North Sea by the Rhine.

At the same time, the volunteers are collecting data for a long-term scientific project. KRAKE members want to use this information to persuade the government to introduce mandatory limits on the amount of plastic in our streams, rivers and seas.

Fishers and seafood farmers in several countries are experimenting with nets made from alternative materials to reduce plastic production and protect our seas — and the creatures that live there. All too often, free-floating ghost nets turn into death traps for marine animals.

Mussel farming has been taking place in the waters off the southern Italian city of Taranto for many centuries. In the 1960s, polypropylene nets became the norm. But now some seafood farmers are trying to change that. Ciccio Marangione is testing a maize-based bioplastic with promising results. Others are experimenting with natural materials like hemp or sisal.

Nomads Surfing, a company based in the French city of Bordeaux, wants to revolutionize the entire industry. Conventional surfboards and equipment are made almost exclusively from high-tech plastics. The Nomads are taking a different tack by recycling old boards, using sustainable materials and turning old wetsuits and flip flops into surfing accessories. They are also getting a lot of attention from big sporting equipment manufacturers.

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