Finnish project to develop small, mobile factory to remove marine plastic waste / VTT unit to contain plastic-eating microbes / Plan for pilot unit in Baltic Sea in 2021
The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (Espoo; is developing a mini, mobile factory that will contain plastic-eating microbes to remove plastic waste from oceans.

Called "PlastBug", the project’s aim is to develop a container-based factory that can be placed on a beach or in a ship, where centralised plastic waste collection or recycling is not possible or feasible. The unit would get most of its energy from solar and wind power.

This year, PlastBug researchers have been examining microbes that are capable of degrading a variety of plastics, such as PE, PP, PET or PS, and they have also developed methods for pre-treating the plastics.

“Some microbes have already passed through the first two stages of the screening. In the third stage, we will confirm if are they capable to consume and digest plastic. In the next step, if plastic degrading microbes will be found, we will improve the ability of the most effective microbes to digest plastic and we will develop plastic pre-treatment methods further to ease the work of the microbes," explained Kari Koivuranta, VTT’s principal scientist.
Funding needed for pilot project against marine litter
A complete process is being engineered around the fermenting unit containing the microbes. The aim is that the pilot unit will operate in the Baltic Sea in 2021, although VTT said it still needs to secure funding if the plan is to be realised. The project is part of VTT’s IBEX programme, which aims to develop solutions for today’s global challenges, such as climate change, food scarcity and air pollution, among many others.

On 25 August 2018, the PlastBug team was awarded second place in the Meriroska (Marine Litter) Challenge, which was organised by the Finnish Environment Institute (Helsinki;
14.09.2018 [240569-0]
Published on 14.09.2018

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