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The RepescaPlas Project develops a management and recovery system for plastics recovered from the sea by the end of its fourth year

AIMPLAS has now completed the fourth and final year of the RepescaPlas Project, which has made it possible to develop a complete management system for plastic waste recovered from the sea and subsequent recycling to manufacture products of commercial value.

The RepescaPlas Project has met the goal of expanding knowledge about marine litter, its location and different types in order to create a complete passive fishing strategy and management system for this waste thanks to cooperation from the fishing industry, as well as mechanisms for recovery of the plastic fraction.

Specifically, the new system begins with the recovery of waste during each vessel’s fishing days (passive waste fishing). The waste is then temporarily stored in containers at the port after being weighed and labelled. It is classified by type and samples of the plastic fraction are taken in accordance with the MARNOBA method. In the laboratory, the material is then classified by type of material, a process that has shown that most waste consists of low-density polyethylene, PET containers and polyamide packaging. Finally, the plastic material is shredded, washed and dried at a recycling plant for recovery using mechanical and chemical recycling.

According to Sonia Albein, principal investigator of the project and Mechanical Recycling Group Leader at AIMPLAS, “One of the specific goals in the fourth year was to focus on the creation of a monitored management system to help us ensure that waste recovered from the sea can be treated industrially”. Based on this criteria, RepescaPlas has been very successful. Thanks to its cooperation with the E. Niño sorting plant in Arganda del Rey (Madrid), which is equipped with infrared sorting equipment, it was possible to recover the plastic material by means of mechanical recycling with a quality that enabled the material to be used to manufacture new products at industrial level. In particular, the project developed three demo samples using this recycling system (a paper bin, clipboard and flowerpot), as well as fuel that can be used by vessels as a result of chemical recycling using a pyrolysis process on the mixed waste fraction

The Repescaplas Project was developed with the cooperation of the Biodiversity Foundation and the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge through the Pleamar Programme, co-funded by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP).