Mac­room SMILEs as its plas­tics pol­lu­tion project nets a top gong

MAC­ROOM BASED PROJECT ‘CIR­CU­LAR OCEAN’ AWARDED

The Corkman - - NEWS - MARIA HER­LIHY

FROM cur­rent re­search it is es­ti­mated that a whop­ping eight mil­lion tonnes of plas­tic en­ters the oceans each year and by 2050 it is be­lieved there will be more plas­tic than fish.

The is­sue of marine plas­tics is par­tic­u­larly per­ti­nent to Ire­land. Ire­land has a marine ter­ri­tory 10 times the size of our land area and with the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion liv­ing within 50km from the ocean plas­tic pol­lu­tion is a huge worry for al­most ev­ery­one.

Marine plas­tics and more specif­i­cally the scourge of lost and dis­carded fish­ing gear was the fo­cus of Mac­room based project ‘Cir­cu­lar Ocean’, which was re­cently awarded the 2018 Pak­man Award for achieve­ments in En­vi­ron­men­tal Ed­u­ca­tion & Aware­ness.

The Pak­man Awards are na­tional awards that recog­nise ex­cel­lence in waste man­age­ment and re­cy­cling among busi­nesses, or­gan­i­sa­tions, com­mu­nity groups and ini­tia­tives in Ire­land.

The awards cer­e­mony took place at the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Dublin Ho­tel un­der the watch­ful eye of MC Caitri­ona Perry of RTE. There were 400 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from lead­ing busi­nesses, or­gan­i­sa­tions and com­mu­nity groups come to­gether to cel­e­brate their pos­i­tive im­pacts on the en­vi­ron­ment.

The Cir­cu­lar Ocean team ac­cepted their award from Min­is­ter for State for Ru­ral Af­fairs and Na­tional Re­sources, Seán Can­ney TD.

Ted O’Leary, of the En­vi­ron­ment Di­rec­torate of Cork County Coun­cil ex­pressed de­light that the great work of the Cir­cu­lar Ocean project team has been recog­nised with the Pak­man Award.

“The coun­cil very much en­dorses and sup­ports the aims of Cir­cu­lar Ocean. The pro­mo­tion of a sus­tain­able cir­cu­lar econ­omy in re­la­tion to marine waste is an ob­jec­tive very much in keep­ing with emerg­ing in­ter­na­tional, EU and na­tional waste man­age­ment pol­icy,” he said.

He also said that con­trol­ling marine waste is an im­por­tant pri­or­ity for Cork which, with a coast­line of 1,100km, is the largest coastal county in the coun­try.

“Main­tain­ing a pris­tine marine en­vi­ron­ment is es­sen­tial, not just to the econ­omy of Cork, but to the well be­ing of cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. We will look to en­sure that the lessons and rec­om­men­da­tions of the project are now sup­ported across the many func­tions of the coun­cil,” said Mr O’Leary.

Funded un­der the ERDF In­ter­reg VB North­ern Pe­riph­ery and Arc­tic (NPA) Pro­gramme, the fo­cus of the Cir­cu­lar Ocean project is to seek op­por­tu­ni­ties for re­cov­ery and re­use of waste fish­ing nets and rope, with a view to ben­e­fit­ing lo­cal economies.

The ini­tial con­cept emerged from Mac­room E En­ter­prise Cen­tre through the SMILE Re­source Ex­change, where mem­bers high­lighted the sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem posed by waste fish­ing nets in Ire­land and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Mac­room E, a wholly owned sub­sidiary of Cork County Coun­cil, is the sole Ir­ish part­ner and had re­spon­si­bil­ity for the com­mu­ni­ca­tions ac­tiv­i­ties sur­round­ing the project.

Cir­cu­lar Ocean’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy cen­tred around en­light­en­ing coastal com­mu­ni­ties, in­dus­try and pol­i­cy­mak­ers of the po­ten­tially detri­men­tal en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of end of life fish­ing nets and rope, while in­spir­ing the di­ver­sion of waste fish­ing gear ma­te­ri­als from our oceans and land­fills for re­use, re­cy­cling and new prod­uct de­vel­op­ment.

Part­ners have also in­ves­ti­gated the po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions of end of life fish­ing nets in ar­eas such as 3D print­ing and as a re­place­ment for new plas­tic prod­ucts in the con­struc­tion sec­tor, as well as pro­vid­ing ex­pert guid­ance to SME’s on new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Cir­cu­lar Ocean – Mac­room E named win­ner of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Ed­u­ca­tion and Aware­ness Ini­tia­tive Award at the Pak­man Awards 2018, pow­ered by Repak; pic­tured at the Pak­man Awards 2018 were (l to r) Min­is­ter for State at the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Cli­mate Ac­tion and the En­vi­ron­ment, Sean Can­ney TD; Louis Duffy; Kather­ine Cork­ery; Julie Crow­ley and John O’Re­gan from Cir­cu­lar Ocean – Mac­room E and Chris Mur­phy, DCE from CIWM as Co. Cork ini­tia­tive, Cir­cu­lar Ocean – Mac­room E is an­nounced as the win­ner of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Ed­u­ca­tion and Aware­ness Ini­tia­tive Award, spon­sored by CIWM.

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