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Cleaning up Europe’s waves

  • Imagine a carbon-neutral, floating greenhouse that cleans water to grow crops in cities. That’s the idea behind the Jellyfish Barge made by Pnat, a spin-out company from the University of Florence, Italy. Their prototype is currently docked in Florence but these floating gardens could soon be seen across Europe thanks to an EU-funded feasibility study to work out how to turn the barges into a commercial product. Image courtesy of Pnat
  • Crops are grown inside the Jellyfish Barge using hydroponics, a water-based system that doesn’t require soil. It relies on tentacles beneath the barge to purify up to 150 litres of salty, brackish or polluted water each day, and is powered by seven solar panels on its roof. One barge can produce enough food to feed two families and multiple structures can be slotted together to form a one-hectare area that can feed 1 500 people. Image courtesy of Pnat
  • Across the Mediterranean, the Spanish fashion company Ecoalf is putting ocean litter to good use by turning it into thread, fabric and pellets which are used to make a range of clothing and accessories that are sold online and in their Madrid store. It takes between 34 and 96 recycled plastic bottles to make a coat, and seven to 22 recycled bottles to make handbags and backpacks. Image courtesy of Ecoalf
  • Ecoalf has started UPCYCLINGTHEOCEAN, which the EU has recently supported, to work with fishermen who have removed 20 tonnes of trash since September 2015. Every year 6 million tonnes of debris is thrown into our oceans, and it takes shopping bags and plastic bottles approximately 20 years and 450 years to degrade respectively. Image courtesy of UPCYCLINGTHEOCEAN
  • It’s not only land-based activities that are guilty of polluting our seas. From the approximately 64 000 tonnes of waste dumped at sea each year, about 10 % comes from the fisheries sector alone and only a small portion of that is recycled. However, that could increase thanks to the EU-funded EUFIR project, which is working to turn this litter into pellets that can go on to give the waste a second life as plastic boxes, spare parts for cars, brooms and nylon thread. Image courtesy of EUFIR
  • There is an ocean-borne bacteria that breaks down oil, and this tiny organism could provide a helping hand in cleaning up after spills from maritime transport or offshore oil exploration. After a spill, only around 10 % of oil is cleaned up by response teams, with the other 90 % dispersing through weathering and biodegradation. Researchers on the EU-funded Kill-Spill project are fishing for these bacteria in the pristine waters of the Arctic Ocean by using test tube-style traps of crude oil and carbon. If t