A Macroom managed initiative that quite literally offers entrepreneurs the chance to make money out of old rope has scooped a prestigious EU award.
A pan-European EU project jointly sponsored in Ireland by Cork County Council and the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) South Cork, and based at the Macroom E centre, Circular Ocean investigates how man-made waste materials harvested from European waters each year can be recycled.
The sheer scale of ocean pollution is staggering, with an estimated eight millions tonnes of industrial litter ending up in the seas around northern Europe each year. It is estimated that 15% of that remains floating on the surface and a further 15% is washed ashore, with the remaining 70% sinking to the sea bed.
It is estimated that this waste, much of which is plastic that can take thousands of years to fully breakdown, will continue to accumulate if not address with expects predicting there could be more than 150 tonnes of it in European waters by the year 2025.
Experts say that discarded fishing gear such as ropes, netting and plastic containers are among the host harmful types of waste to marine life, with the economic damage caused by them estimated to stand at up to €12 billion.
As part of the Circular Ocean research phase, Macroom E is currently liaising with key stakeholders in Irish ports and harbours, fishermen and business groups to look at the possibility of creating green enterprises through the collection, reuse and recycling of this litter.
Macroom E is playing a pivotal role in Circular Oceans, which was only established this year, through its research and more specifically disseminating the project’s findings to scientists, politicians and entrepreneurs
In recognition of its work Circular Oceans won the Public choice category at the 2016 European Commission ‘RegioStars’ Awards, for being one of the year’s most “innovative and inspiring” EU funded projects.