As we highlighted in last month’s Ocean Cleanup article, plastic litter in the world’s oceans is an enormous problem. Cleaning up the world’s giant floating plastic garbage patches is one challenge, but how do we ‘close the tap’ to prevent plastic reaching the oceans in the first place?
An exciting starting point is Recycled Park, a Rotterdam-based project that aims to capture plastic litter in the Nieuwe Maas River before it reaches the ocean. The plastic would then be recycled into building blocks to create floating parks and green spaces throughout the city.
As the waste plastics that can be retrieved from the Nieuwe Maas are relatively fresh, they have good recycling potential. For the Recycled Park project, the recycled plastic would be formed into hexagonal-shaped building blocks that can be pinned together to form floating platforms.
The proposed building blocks vary in depth to create soft flowing landscapes.They also allow the floating platforms to accommodate a variety of fauna, from rootless plant life such as moss, to trees several metres high.
So the ultimate aim of Recycled Park is to create attractive green spaces in and around the Rotterdam waterfront, and at the same time give a vital boost to the eco-system.
This innovative project is the brainchild of Ramon Knoester, a Dutch architect and founder of WHIM, an architecture practice based in Rotterdam. Knoester has been able to get the initial research phase of Recycled Park off the ground with the help of a grant from the Creative Industries Fund. WHIM is now working in collaboration with the Rotterdam City Government, Wageningen University (WUR), Better Future Factory, HEBO Maritiemservice and SK international, on a feasibility study to retrieve plastic pollutants from the river and determine the best way to recycle them.
The focus of the study is on the Nieuwe Maas, that connects the inland through the Rhein and Meuse with the North Sea. So Knoester has identified Rotterdam Harbour as the perfect place to explore how best to ‘close the tap’ on plastic pollution flowing from this major European river.
As project collaborators, HEBO Maritiemservice brings its expertise and experience in cleaning the Rotterdam Harbour of floating garbage, and SK international is providing the Plastic Visser (Fisher), a floating platform designed to retrieve marine litter from rivers.
The Plastic Visser was originally developed by Royal Haskoning DHV, ISI and SK international and it sustainably removes plastics from open water. It has two outstretched arms that create a floating basin 6 metres wide and 12 metres long.
The material is then sieved and separated on board. Organic materials are returned to the river, and what remains is the raw material that will be recycled to create the Recycled Park building blocks.
Alongside the water-based studies, Better Future Factory and Wageningen University are researching recycling techniques, to explore material properties for WHIM to refine the hexagonal building block design. This will provide the starting point for further development of design variations.
A key aim is to utilise all plastics removed from the river so that no waste remains. So initial studies aim to explore if the plastics can be separated and recycled to create the various component parts of the building block system.
The research phase of Recycled Park is also providing an opportunity to explore alternative future building materials, such as bio-plastics, which would bring even greater environmental benefits. This advancement would be a simple step away once the recycled plastic production process is in place.
If successfully realised in Rotterdam, Recycled Park could easily be adapted to create new green environments for other inner-city areas, especially those around key estuary gateways for marine-litter. Floating parks could also play a valuable role in city expansion, facilitating public green spaces for sports and recreation purposes.
The flexibility of the Recycled Park building system provides endless possibilities for creating unique floating landscapes. There is even the potential for such floating structures to be relocated when required.
The ultimate goal For Ramon Knoester would be the creation of floating villas and habitable islands made from recycled plastics. In this respect, Knoester has been developing visionary design proposals for a number of years now, and has recently established the Recycled Island Foundation which aims to raise funds for a prototype that will bring this concept one step closer to realisation.
If you wish to find out more about this project we recommend a visit to the Recycled Park website. You can also follow Recycled Park on Facebook. We hope you find this project inspiring, and will show your support by sharing this story with others.
- Visit the Recycled Park website >
- Follow the progress of the Recycled Park project on Facebook >
- Join and follow the Recycled Park group on LinkedIn >
- Visit the Better Future Factory website >
- Follow WHIM Architecture on Facebook >
- Visit the Recycled Island website >
- Recycled Park – Watch an overview presentation of the Recycled Park project.
- Too Good to Waste – An excellent overview of how waste materials, such as plastic, are being addressed by the Port Authority of Rotterdam. Includes an overview of the Recycled Park project.
- Any Waste Any Time – Part 1 Discover how the Port of Rotterdam Authority is tackling the enormous problem of marine litter produced by shipping.
- Any Waste Any Time – Part 2 How shipping litter can be collected to improve the marine environment and generate revenue streams.
- How the Water Visser works How the SK International ‘Water Fisher’ cleans up floating litter in rivers.
Image credits: WHIM Architecture, Ramon Knoester, Recycled Park, Havenbedrijf Rotterdam
Recycled Park features in the October 2014 edition of Rhine Capital Partners monthly investment updates.
- On 27th October 2014