Two Catalan researchers are testing solutions to reduce the impact of plastics in marine pollution.
For six months, aboard the scientific schooner Tara, two Catalans have traveled nine of the largest rivers in Europe to track plastics. They have made an observation, 10% of plastics produced are discharged at sea, or 8 million tons per year. These plastics are rejected mainly in the form of small pieces that infiltrate everywhere, including in the food chain.
Back in Banyuls-sur-mer, these two researchers are studying the micro-plastics and looking for solutions to reduce their impact on the environment:
“We scientists are just like whistleblowers. And when we are on the ground it is quite catastrophic the amounts of plastic that we see. Now, we want to stay positive because solutions exist today. But the commercial poeple and the consumers have to work together with the scientists.
“The goal of this company is to advance scientific knowledge so that it can be transported to industry, explained Jean-François Ghiglione, CNRS Research Director and consultant of the company “Plastic @ Sea”.
Plastic of animal or vegetable origin?
Anne-Leïla has created the company Plastic @ Sea, the industrialists are turning to her to test new biodegradable plastics, that are in any case much less harmful to the environment.
“We will propose other forms of plastics that exist that can be bio-sourced or that of animal or vegetable origin. Plastics made from bacteria, algae or cane sugar. We will test them, and use them and we will also test the final product in terms of biodegradability and also toxicity.”
Plastic @ Sea is located in the heart of the Banyuls-sur-Mer laboratory. Here, they can test plastics in aquariums that reproduce different marine environments.
Having access to the sea, sea water, marine organisms on site in these conditions is quite exceptional, says Pascal Romans, the head of aquariology service of the Oceanological Observatory of Banyuls-sur-mer.