Macroom SMILEs as its plastics pollution project nets a top gong


Macroom SMILEs as its plastics pollution project nets a top gong

Macroom based project ‘Circular Ocean’ awarded

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. 

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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.



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