Mitsui OSK Lines, best known for its fleets of bulk carriers and car carriers, has launched what may be its smallest and most unique vessel. The ship is designed to collect trash from the waterways and is part of the company’s environmental efforts.
Called Arika, MOL held a demonstration of its marine debris collection vessel on March 1 off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. The ship was apparently developed with a Turkish company EPS Marine, which pioneered the concept of converting Skinners into boats that could collect debris and garbage floating in the water. MOL purchased the vessel through PT MOL Blue Ocean Indonesia, a wholly owned subsidiary of MOL Group. In addition to the boat, the company also demonstrated a collection device that is attached to a tractor and pulled across the beach.
While Bali, Indonesia has a diverse and rich natural environment, the problem of marine litter is becoming more and more serious. MOL argues that the effects of rapid urbanization and population growth are contributing to the increase in waste.
Both the marine litter collection vessel and the coastal litter collection device have conveyor belts that collect litter from the water and along the shore.
Starting with a demonstration of marine litter collection in Bali, Indonesia, MOL aims to commercialize the technology and has launched a feasibility study of the business model for launching a marine litter collection vessel in Vietnam. Last year they reported that the survey would last about a year and would include a business model review and assessments of local shipyards that could build collection vessels, while also considering cooperation with Vietnamese government ministries and agencies.
MOL cites experts who report that plastic litter accounts for an estimated 70 percent of marine litter, while projecting that by 2050 the amount of plastic litter in the oceans could exceed that of fish. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) lists China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam as leading sources of plastic waste. The amount of garbage in Southeast Asia they reported accounts for most of the plastic in the oceans at 700,000 tons, accounting for 6 percent of the global total, coming from Vietnam and other Asian countries. Vietnam’s long north-south coastline makes it more vulnerable to debris flowing into the sea, and the amount of waste is increasing with rapid urbanization.
Plastic debris floating in the oceans is also believed to be contributing to the increase in microplastic particles, which are of growing concern to scientists and environmentalists. MOL previously announced that it is testing a filtration system that can remove microparticles during ballast water operations. Last year they also began testing a centrifugal microplastic collection device that can continuously collect the material while a ship is underway.