IN MOCEAN was excited to be able to participate. Berenike Steiger, one of the founding members of IN MOCEAN, was there with a team of volunteers during the weekend of August 13/14th 2022 to showcase the portable ocean plastic recycling machines that are carried around the world by the Fleet of Recycling Ambassadors.
The German Ocean Foundation is a strong voice for the oceans
The German Ocean Foundation (Deutsche Meeresstiftung) creates synergies of knowledge and action using science, economics, politics, and society. Their aim is to create a broad “sea-consciousness” in all aspects of society. They engage political decision-makers, opinion-makers, the economy, the general population and, above all, youth to overcome the current irresponsibility around plastic usage and pollution.
Frank Schweikert, Founding Director of the German Ocean Foundation, believes that…
This outlook aligns with everything that IN MOCEAN works towards. So, when we were asked to participate, we were both excited and honored to take part.
Exploring the Baltic Sea habitat during the Ocean Discovery Days
The Ocean Discovery Days (MeerErlebnisTage) are an annual event hosted in Niendorf Harbour that aims to create awareness about the ecosystem of the Baltic Sea and its threats. Everyone is welcome to participate, the program seemed to attract especially families and children. There were two aspects of the program that IN MOCEAN was particularly excited to see – the Sailing Lab and the Beach Lab – as much of our work is also done in these environments.
Sailing Labs offer marine science out on the ocean
The Sailing Labs were so exciting, as the children could go out on the water and experience science at the same time! The Aldebaran, is a 14-metre aluminium sailboat that is equipped with an underwater drone, an underwater camera, and equipment to take samples of the sea water and the sea bottom. It also has a fully equipped weather station, an audio studio that is used to transmit radio sessions while underway. We were excited to see that they also had a micro plastic trawler, similar to the one that IN MOCEAN built.
We love that kids could get out on the ocean, gain sailing experience, and get a taste of life on the water. It is also encouraging to see them be excited and engaged with the marine environment, and to be learning how they can help prevent ocean pollution. Perhaps in a few years, they will want to join the IN MOCEAN Recycling Fleet and fight the war on plastic!
Exploring the Baltic Sea`s coastal eco-system during Beach Labs
During Beach Labs groups of kids explore the Timmendorfer Strand, a stretch of seashore on the Baltic Sea. Here they collect specimens to take back to the science tent to learn about the creatures that they found. The kids found beach crabs, moon jellyfish, seaweed, bladderwrack, sea lice, sea needles and shrimp, just to name a few.
They also collected plastic bags, PPE masks, tetra packs and drink bottles, dog poop bags and various other plastic waste. The objective was to create awareness about plastic waste and to encourage children to prevent plastics from ending up in our oceans. It was great to see that the kids were aware about the threat of plastic pollution, especially that turtles mistake plastic bags for jelly fish, their favourite food.
IN MOCEAN took this one step further and was able to show how some of that plastic could be diverted from entering the oceans, as well as be transformed into new, usable products. A perfect addition to the the German Ocean Foundation`s program.
IN MOCEAN complements the Ocean Discovery Days
For the last weekend, IN MOCEAN set up sorting, shredding and extruding stations in one of the tents and encouraged the public to experience the full recycling process. Everyone had fun learning about plastic pollution and getting some hands-on knowledge of our recycling machines and how IN MOCEAN is using them to help people in remote coastal areas.
Identifying different types of plastic using a float test
Most plastic containers have a recycling symbol on the bottom to identify which type of plastic was used. However, when plastics are found on beaches they are often broken into small pieces, and it is difficult to determine which type of plastic it is.
We only work with number 2 HDPE or High-Density Polyethylene, 4 LDPE or Low-Density Polyethylene and 5 PP or Polypropylene. These are thermoplastics and don`t develop toxic fumes when heated, making them safe for use in our extruder machines. In the Plastic Identification Station, the IN MOCEAN team demonstrated how plastics can be sorted using a simple float test.
Using a jar filled with clean water, one filled with vegetable oil and another with 50% isopropyl alcohol visitors placed pieces of plastic in each solution. Since each liquid and each plastic has a different density, each type of plastic will float in one liquid but sink in the others. For example, HDPE will float in water but sink in vegetable oil and alcohol.
Many people knew about the different types of plastic, but most did not know how to identify them. They had also not seen trash being transformed into something new in person. Everyone was eager to move to the Shredding Station.
Shredding bottle caps into small plastic pieces
At the Shredding Station we used our mobile shredder made by Precious Plastic Melbourne. This is the same machine that the IN MOCEAN Recycling Fleet carries around the world to demonstrate the potential of plastic recycling to remote communities. We were thrilled to get to show the kids how it worked.
We used plastic bottle caps that had been collected and cleaned and invited everyone to put a bottle cap into our mobile shredder and watch it being shredded to little pieces. The kids loved this station! We even had to stop them from putting too many bottle caps in at one time. It was fun to see them get excited about plastic recycling.
Making recycled products with the Extruder
The next step in the recycling process is the melting of the plastic and making a new product. There are many types of machines that can be used in this process, but during Ocean Discovery Days IN MOCEAN brought along the Extruder made by PlasticPreneur Austria.
Participants got to load PP plastic shreds in the hopper on the top of the machine. They watched as the plastic flakes were melted and transformed into a flexible, sticky filament that comes out of the nozzle like a hot rope. This filament is then wrapped around a form to create a new plastic, usable item.
During the demonstration we made baskets. Berenike makes the process look easy and several people stepped up to try themselves. Everyone had fun watching or creating a basket that they could take home. Also on display were a variety of different products that other members of the Precious Plastic Community have made. Buttons, a tablet holder, carabiners, soap boxes, plastic sheets, a clip board, body boarding paddles and everyone’s favourite, a clock. The potential for plastic is endless!
We are excited about our first event cooperation in Germany and grateful for the opportunity
We had such a fun weekend at Ocean Discovery Days hosted by the German Ocean Foundation. The weather was great, lots of people came by, and everyone was interested in learning more about plastic pollution and IN MOCEAN’s plastic recycling program.
The highlight of our weekend was when a mother came back to our tent with a bag full of trash. After visiting Ocean Discover Days and participating in the IN MOCEAN activities, she and her young son went to the beach just to pick up plastic. It makes our hearts warm to know our work is making a difference.
Big thanks to the Meeresstiftung, The German Ocean Foundation, for including us to the MeerErlebnisTage, Ocean Discover Days at Niendorf Harbour. We hope we can return next year.
And to all the wonderful volunteers that made this event possible- Sheila, Anna, Benno, Veit, Charlotte, Ulrich, and Monika.
A great big thanks to all the kids, big and small, the families and people that came out to support, learn, and participate. Let’s get #inmoceanforcleanoceans