Port of Antwerp launches app to fight against plastic pollution
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Port of Antwerp launches app to fight against plastic pollution

A volunteer sorting plastic waste in the Scheldebocht, near the port. © BELGAONTHESPOT

The Port of Antwerp will launch an app to allow anyone who downloads it to report plastic waste in its surroundings, in an effort to reduce the impact of the port’s activity on its surroundings.

The app is part of a range of initiatives launched by the Flemish port as part of its Zero Pellet Loss Platform, launched in 2017.

Developed jointly with the Karel de Grote Hogeschool, a local higher education institute, the mobile app is set to be released by 2021.

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The second-largest port in Europe, the Port of Antwerp is also the main production, handling and distribution hub of polymer plastic pellets or granules, the raw material from which a range of plastic goods are made.

The daily activities of the industrial port lead to massive accidental loss of industrial plastic pellets, which litter the surroundings and pollute the waterways.

In 2018, a year after signing onto the Platform, the port’s rate of plastic pellet pollution was cut in by a little more than half, standing at 2.5 tons, compared to 4 tons the year prior, according to a report by MO*.

The cutback was achieved in part through a range of initiatives such as sweeping the port’s surroundings twice a month or by deploying a plastic-sucking dredger in the Galgeschoor, a natural reserve located in the heart of the industrial port area, according to HLN.

The aim is for the app to entice the public to report areas affected by plastic pellet production so that the port can dispatch cleaning services to remove them.

A team of researchers from the University of Antwerp is also studying the way plastic flows once it integrates the River Scheldt whose results will be transmitted to the port with a view of integrating the data into the clean-up actions.

“As one of the most important production and logistics centres for plastics in Europe, the Port of Antwerp has an exemplary role in the fight against pellet loss,” Vincent Van Dyck, an environmental expert with the port, told HLN.

“Preventive measures are therefore extremely important. Plastics have a place in the port, but that place is not the Scheldt nor in nature,” he added.

The Brussels Times