The archipelagos and sea areas off the coast of Helsinki.

Four experiments selected to tackle plastic waste in Baltic Sea

How can we reduce the amount of plastic waste that finds its way into our seas? Can we remove marine litter that is already there? Is there a way to reuse the collected debris? The City of Helsinki recently contributed 50,000 euros to the Baltic Sea Challenge initiative in order to carry out trials that seek answers these questions.

A campaign spearheaded by the City of Helsinki last year invited city dwellers to ‘walk the circumference of the globe’ for a good cause. Residents came out in droves to walk around the picturesque Töölö Bay until the goal of 40,000 kilometres was collectively reached. In honour of this achievement, Helsinki donated 50,000 euros to the Baltic Sea Challenge initiative for the protection of Finland’s most important body of water.

The money was used to fund a Baltic Sea Challenge ‘speedy experiment’ programme that invited new and innovative proposals ideas for preventing, collecting and repurposing marine litter in the archipelagos and sea areas off the coast of Helsinki.

Marine litter is a serious problem in the Baltic Sea, and 70 percent of the debris found there is either plastics or microplastics. Plastic waste poses a real problem, as it breaks down slowly and poses a danger to animal life. It can also transport harmful substances and contribute to the spread of invasive species.

“In a best-case scenario, by encouraging firms to embark on practical experiments like this, the Baltic Sea Challenge can promote the creation of new products that will nurture the Baltic Sea. The business world has a vital role to play in Baltic Sea protection,” says Päivi Kippo-Edlund, head of environmental monitoring and supervision for the City of Helsinki’s Urban Environment Division.

Four companies will conduct experiments

The Baltic Sea Challenge selected the firms of Green House Effect, Clewat, Bloft Design and Biosatama to try out their ideas in the speedy experiment campaign. 

The first experiment from Green House Effect tests the effectiveness of green walls in preventing tyre residue from being flushed into the Baltic Sea along with rainwater. The second experiment from Clewat trials a new water-treatment vessel that removes debris and microplastics from marine locations. The third experiment sees Bloft Design using a gigantic 3D printer to turn plastic waste it has collected in beach clean-ups into SUP boards, while the fourth experiment has Biosatama analysing the amount of plastic waste carried by cruise ship biowaste and producing carbon-neutral energy from what is retrieved.

The Baltic Sea Challenge is an initiative coordinated by the Finnish cities of Helsinki and Turku that aims to protect the Baltic Sea. It consists of a joint Baltic Sea Action Plan, and of a network of 300 partner organisations. The initiative is open to any group that is interested in protecting the Baltic Sea.

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The Baltic Sea Challenge speedy experiments

Photo: Seppo Laakso