How we have turned marine plastics into a revenue source

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Matt Hulland Exeter Council
Matt Hulland, Resource Recovery Manager, Exeter City Council

By Matt Hulland, Resource Recovery Manager, Exeter City Council

Since 2016, Exeter City Council has been working with Odyssey Innovation to recover marine plastics.

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We have been working at 18 ports and harbours collecting HDPE trawl nets, nylon monofilament nets, HD and PP ropes and hard plastics. These ports are in Cornwall, Devon, the Jurassic Coast and even a couple in the South-East of England.

Some Welsh ports are now on board, and talks are even with some in Scotland.

From a tiny start, we have grown rapidly, and Odyssey Innovation’s directors have even become advisers to the Government ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in November.

As far as we know, we are the only organisation that is recycling nylon nets and getting an income from it.

We are making new products such as the Surf Handplane, that is made from 100% recovered marine plastics. This product was designed by surfers and allows for full body contact with the waves, making it one of the purest ways to surf. 

Other products we have made include bins, boxes, cups and even kayaks.

Our success in dealing with these variety of plastics, and making income from them, has allowed us to invest in new infrastructure. We have been able to fund Ro Ro skips, 1100 litre containers and litter bins in the ports to collect the plastics.

Additionally, we have invested in the materials recycling facility I run in Exeter so that we now operate a shredder and granulator to further our work on regrinding the pellet.

But we haven’t stopped there. Our work now includes looking at other hard-to-recycle plastics on land including those in the agricultural sector and how to recycle plant pots from garden centres.

We are in discussions with plastics recyclers, but are always happy to talk to others that might be able to help us, especially where we can drive revenue from these plastics to invest in our work.

This project hasn’t always been easy and has involved a lot of hard work. But it also shows that it is possible to derive revenue from hard-to-recycle plastics, while also helping to protect our oceans. 

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