We have big and exciting news! Starting today, Claire Potter Design will be leading a £34,000 research project concerning marine litter in the greater Brighton area. The project aims to create local value from marine plastic waste and ghost gear; fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned or otherwise discarded.
The project, titled ‘Investigating how Ghost Gear and Marine Plastics can become Precious Plastics’, is being co-funded by Innovate UK; the UK’s innovation agency, and will be supported by a number of parties including fisheries consultant Harry Owen, and Professor Martin Charter, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Design at the University for the Creative Arts. Progressing in 3 stages, the studio will begin by collecting data relating to marine plastic in the area including variations, volumes and the economic impact of their loss. The second stage is to define the problem, opportunities for reuse and how fishers can be involved in the process. The final stage of the 6-month project requires the development of small scale machinery that can be used to produce 20 prototype products from the recovered materials.
The public awareness of marine plastics and their impacts on our oceans, aquatic life and coastlines has greatly increased in recent years. Reports, campaigns and increasing media coverage have helped to highlight the issues of plastic ingestion and entanglement. Currently, recovered marine plastic is brought to the land in preparation for incineration or landfill, however plastics can last for up to 600 years meaning that they could prove a valuable resource material.
If value can be created from this ‘waste’ material, the incentives to remove it from our oceans will be increased, and both gear loss and recovery could increase mitigation. The material and machinery will also provide opportunities for an increase in localised, small scale manufacture, supporting a local economy for marine waste reuse in the greater Brighton area.
Despite this being their first funded research project in this area, and as readers of The Ecospot are probably aware, the team at Claire Potter Design are not new to marine litter research. Our multi-disciplinary design studio have been working in the area of circular economy design for a number of years, alongside volunteer roles as Global Ghost Gear Initiative Design Consultants for the World Cetacean Alliance, Regional Representatives for environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage, and sitting on the British Standards Committee, MADE; Design for manufacture, assembly, disassembly and end-of-life processing.
To ensure maximum benefit to all parties involved (including the public), we are providing complete transparency during the research. This will include regular reports and updates HERE at The Ecospot as well as public consultation and open meetings. This will provide a greater understanding of the public perception of marine plastic, as well as providing a useful resource for replication in other parts of the UK.
And why are we doing this…?
- It is estimated that marine litter costs UK local authorities over £18m a year in removal and disposal (Surfers Against Sewage, 2014)
- It has been estimated that over 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear alone are lost or discarded in our global oceans every year (Macfadyen, et al., 2009)
- Ghost gear causes the death of around 1 million seabirds and an estimated 100,000 mammals per year through ingestion and entanglement. (Surfers Against Sewage, 2014)
So. Let’s get going eh? Follow our updates on the Precious Marine Plastics project tab above…
(all images by claire potter design)