Multi-million grant for Danish battle against marine plastic waste

VILLUM FONDEN and VELUX FONDEN have made a joint grant of DKK 8.9 million for the project 'Sea of ​​possibilities'. The project will analyze and reduce marine plastic waste through a number of initiatives. The two NGOs Plastic Change and the Ecological Council as well as the industry association the Danish Plastics Federation spearhead the project.

Plastic waste in the Sea is a complex and growing problem affecting wildlife, ecosystems, tourism and business. That trend has to be reversed and the process is now accelerated in a Danish context.

'Sea of ​​possibilities' consists of various elements, which together contribute to the long-term objective of documenting the prevalence of micro and macro plastic in the marine environment. Furthermore, the sources of pollution will be determined and reduced.

“It is a happy day for the environment in Denmark. With the grant from the two foundations, we will now be able to gain in-depth knowledge of how plastic affects the environment and potentially us human beings. In particular, we will start a discussion as to how to have a sustainable future with plastic,” says Henrik Beha Pedersen, environmental biologist and founder of Plastic Change.

Local partnerships, new and green business models, development of technologies, accumulation of knowledge, behavioral influence and communication are some of the tools used in the project ‘Sea of Opportunity’, which will run for the next three years.

Project Plastic-Free Roskilde Fjord

A very exciting part of the project focuses on future-proofing Roskilde Fjord and, by extension, the new national park, Land of Scyldings (Skjoldungernes Land), with regard to the increasing plastic pollution. “The goal is to involve the locals in the project from the outset and enable them to keep Roskilde Fjord plastic free on their own,” explains Henrik Beha Pedersen.

Recycling plastic from the Jutlandic West Coast

Another specific activity is the development of a green business model, which intends to demonstrate the value to society of collecting and recycling plastic waste from the western coast of Jutland.

This part of the project involves two member companies of the Danish Plastics Federation, and it is only natural that the industry would carry its part of the responsibility. Helle Fabiansen, Environmental Manager at the Danish Plastics Federation, emphasizes this:

“Plastic waste is bad for the marine environment, but at the same time plastic is a valuable resource. There are a number of good reasons for recycling plastic on a much greater scale. Our collection effort via volunteers along the western coast of Jutland and the subsequent production of new plastic products – such as recreational furniture – is an exciting pilot project which will hopefully lead to the development of a new green business model”.

Microplastic-free cosmetics

‘Sea of Opportunity’ will fight microplastic as well. The project also involves a Danish implementation of the ‘Beat the Microbead’ consumer app, which identifies the beauty and cosmetics products which contain microplastic.

“Micro plastic is a completely unnecessary ingredient in a lot of consumer products, and this directly affects human beings and the environment. One of the challenges of microplastic is its ability to bind hazardous chemicals, which means that it contributes to spreading those chemicals in nature as well. Project ‘Sea of Opportunity’ will create a debate – among other things, via ‘Beat the Microbead’ – involving the general public, the industry and the politicians. Together, we must find solutions which will reduce plastic waste in Denmark, in the European Union and at the global level,” says Christian Ege, Head of Secretariat at the Ecological Council.

The results of ‘Sea of Opportunity’ will be presented to the public on an ongoing basis. For one thing, an active presence at the People’s Political Festival at the Danish island of Bornholm will be a regular platform of communication.

Facts on the partners behind ‘Sea of Opportunity’

In late 2014 Plastic Change, the Ecological Council and the Danish Plastics Federation decided to collaborate and launch the project ‘Plastic-Free Sea’. The goal is to create new solution-focused knowledge about the phenomenon of marine plastic waste – particularly in a Danish context.

Further information

Henrik Beha Pedersen (Plastic Change) - +45 22 88 16 15

Christian Ege (The Ecological Council) - +45 28 58 06 98

Helle Fabiansen (Plastindustrien) – +45 26 89 30 27