The Plastics Technology Centre is working on several projects to recover plastic waste and end-of-life fishing nets and recycle them to manufacture new high added-value products, like textiles or furniture.
AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, emphasises the importance of continuing to remove plastics from the sea on World Oceans Day, held on 8th June. The presence of litter in seas and oceans is a problem that moves forward in parallel to the industrial economic development of society, which is of increasing concern. A very visible part of this contamination corresponds to plastic wastes that consumer do not place in specific collection points.
AIMPLAS has processed around 5,200kg of marine litter and from that material, manufactured 15 benches as a part of the Coca Cola Circular Seas project in collaboration with the Asociación Vertidos Cero and the NGO Plàstic Preciós. The first bench was installed in Madrid on World Oceans Day and the rest will be placed in the ports from which the litter was recovered in recognition of the 500 fishermen involved.
Additionally, AIMPLAS has successfully completed a project to recover marine litter funded by CaixaBank and the Bancaja Foundation within the framework of their second call on the Environment and Sustainable Development. This project made it possible to manufacture new pieces of furniture, namely, a bench weighing 840 kg and measuring six metres in length made of 100% recycled plastic material and 15% end-of-life fishing nets and other marine litter.
With the RepescaPlas Project, AIMPLAS 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 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).
AIMPLAS has included an additive in the material the fabrics are made of that changes colour when exposed to infrared radiation. This makes it possible to certify that the raw material comes from end-of-life fishing nets. The project is funded by the European Union European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EASME).
AIMPLAS is also researching solutions to remove micro and nanoplastics from both urban and industrial wastewater to prevent their release into the environment. These projects respond to growing concern about the existence of plastic particles measuring less than 5 millimetres (known as microplastics) and less than 1 µm (known as nanoplastics) in wastewater.
Because no standardized methodologies are currently available to analyse the presence of these materials, AIMPLAS is developing an innovative method to provide support to companies, so they can improve their environmental safety and anticipate future regulations on the use and production of microplastics in products and the generation of industrial effluents.
To capture micro and nanoplastics from wastewater, AIMPLAS is developing new purification technologies with ultrafiltration membranes to be combined with pilot-scale anaerobic digestion processes. It is expected to be over 99% effective.