The Institute for Ocean Plastic Recycling (IFOPR) gGmbH, founded in November, plans to be represented by a subsidiary in Africa in the near future. Together with partners from the business sector, machines for the sustainable recycling of marine litter are to be brokered and deployed on land – among others in Gambia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo, or Cameroon.
That is an intermediate step for the IFOPR: “Currently, we do not yet have the funding to achieve our real goal: We want to analyze the world’s largest garbage vortex (‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’). In a second step, we will launch the pilot project ‘Silicon Harbour’ and rid the world’s oceans of garbage step by step,” announced IFOPR co-founder Herbert Hornung.
“However, during our explorations, we became aware of the need for sustainable waste recycling on the African continent.” Despite the ban on plastic bags, waste generation in Africa remains high. The IFOPR wants to process this waste locally in a sustainable way to produce electricity, hydrogen or crude oil. The knowledge and technologies to do this already exist and just need to be put to use.
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At the same time, the application for funding for the “Silicon Harbour” pilot project is continuing
The IFOPR needs about $2.1 million (€1.8 million) for the in-depth analysis of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” A total of five professors and two doctoral students from the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (FHWS) are assisting with the application process: “Applying for government funding at the German and European level is extremely complex and costs at least 200 working hours per application,” said IFOPR co-founder Peter Bales. “However, the chance of actually receiving a grant is only 15 percent.”
In addition, many funding programs are only approved if companies contribute at least 50 percent of the costs: “Industry is usually only willing to do this if a marketable product is created at the end of the program,” Bales has learned. “Currently, that’s not the case for us, because we first have to do basic research before we can start projecting our Silicon Harbour or building suitable ships.” In other words, to project Silicon Harbour, the IFOPR must analyze the composition and recyclability of waste in the oceans. This analysis will be carried out by the scientific advisory board of IFOPR gGmbH, which includes the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Süddeutsche Kunststoffzentrum (SKZ) and the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (FHWS).
The founders are still looking for financing partners or small donors for this purpose. As of February 2021, the IFOPR is officially authorized to issue donation receipts as a recognized non-profit organization – and is planning a crowdfunding campaign in the medium term to raise funds.
In addition, the IFOPR is planning to launch the online service “Oceanpedia” together with the FHWS. Via an app or website, all people internationally who are interested in the topic of marine pollution can network with each other to exchange existing and new knowledge as well as experiences. The goal: a worldwide community of marine conservationists. In the database, the IFOPR also wants to list all companies that manufacture sustainable products from recycled plastic.
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First published in RecyclingPortal, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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