Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, best known for its fleets of dry bulkers and car carriers, has launched possibly its smallest and most unique vessel. The vessel is designed to collect debris from the waters and is part of the company’s environmental efforts.
Named Arika, MOL conducted a demonstration of its marine debris collection vessel off the coast of Bali in Indonesia on March 1. The vessel was apparently developed with a Turkish company EPS Marine which pioneered the concept of converting skinners into boats that could collect debris and trash floating in the water. MOL purchased the vessel through PT MOL Blue Ocean Indonesia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the MOL Group. In addition to the boat, the company also demonstrated a collection device that is towed across the beach attached to a tractor.
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While Bali, Indonesia, has a diverse and rich natural environment, the problem of marine debris is becoming more serious. MOL cites the impact of rapid urbanization and population growth as contributing to the increase in litter.
The marine debris collection ship and coastal debris collection device both feature conveyor belts that collect debris from the water and along the shore.
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Starting with a demonstration of marine debris collection in Bali, Indonesia, MOL aims to commercialize the technology and started a feasibility study of the business model for the introduction of a marine debris collection ship in Vietnam. Last year they reported the survey would last about a year and include verification of the business model and evaluations of local shipyards that could build collection ships while also considering cooperation with Vietnamese government ministries and agencies.
MOL cites experts who report that plastic waste accounts for an estimated 70 percent of marine debris, while forecasting by 2050, the volume of plastic waste in the oceans might exceed that of fish. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) lists China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam as leading sources of plastic waste. The volume of debris in Southeast Asia they report accounts for the majority of plastic in the oceans, with 700,000 tons, accounting for six percent of the worldwide total, originating in Vietnam and other Asian countries. Vietnam’s long north-south coastline makes it more susceptible to debris flowing into the ocean, and the volume of waste is increasing along with rapid urbanization.
Plastic debris floating in the oceans is also thought to contribute to the increase in microplastic particles which are of increasing concern to scientists and environmentalists. MOL previously announced that it was testing a filtration system that could remove microparticles during ballast water operations. Last year they also began testing a centrifugal-type microplastic collection device, which can continuously collect the material while a vessel is underway.