Millions to environmental research on how beach wrack can be removed and transformed into a future resource

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By Milthon Lujan

Sweden.- William Hogland, professor of environmental technology, has been allocated SEK 2.8 million for the EU project “CONTRA: Baltic Beach Wrack – Conversion of a Nuisance to a Resource and Asset”. The project will study how you can clean up beaches and use the waste as a future resource.

Beach wrack is organic material; for instance, seaweed, eelgrass, and brown algae that is flushed ashore after storms and sometimes covers Baltic Sea beaches. The most visible part of the problem for the tourism industry in the western and southern Baltic Sea region is the large quantities of seaweed and algae on the beaches where it starts rotting and smell bad. Beach wrack becomes an obstacle for bathers between the beach and the water and these walls of seaweed and algae can also contain high quantities of heavy metals and nutrients that leak back into the sea. On some beaches, there is also anthropogenic (human-produced) waste like plastic, wood, and oil drums.

“In the CONTRA project we will compile the knowledge needed for sustainable handling of beach wrack and other waste found along the beaches of the Baltic Sea region by carrying out case studies to remove it and utilize it as a resource”, says William Hogland.

The main objective of the project is to find the tools needed for a sustainable cleaning-up of beaches, as part of the water management in the Baltic Sea and the recycling of nutrients. The researchers will map out the occurrence of beach wrack throughout the year and try to come up with efficient solutions to the problem. It will also be studied whether it is possible to extract energy from the beach wrack.

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Great interest for cleaning-up of beaches

There has been great interest for the project on the island Öland. Several camping owners want to collaborate and contribute with their experiences and methods for collection of beach wrack. On 2–9 June 2019, a number of students from the Baltic countries will come to Öland to collect beach samples.

“A nice and clean beach is extremely important during the bathing season, for beach visitors as well as for the tourism industry”, says Hogland.The project is financed with funds from the EU’s Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme and the total budget is Euro 2,565,180 (Linnaeus University’s part is Euro 259,052). The project has 14 participating project partners and 22 associated partners from six different countries, consisting of higher education institutions, research institutes, municipalities, the public sector, and companies.

Project webpage: https://lnu.se/en/research/searchresearch/forskningsprojekt/project-contra-baltic-beach-wrack—conversion-of-a-nuisance-to-a-resource-and-asset 

Source: Linnaeus University

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