National Institute of Chemistry, in cooperation with 21 pan-European and one organisation from Africa started an ambitious innovation action project, “REMEDIES - Co-creating strong uptake of REMEDIES for the future of our oceans through deploying plastic litter valorisation and prevention pathways’. The REMEDIES is the first project selected from the newly created Horizon program Mission: Ocean, seas and waters. The European Commission allocated a budget of 7.999.644,75 Euros under its Horizon Europe programme (HORIZON-CL6- HORIZON-MISS-2021-OCEAN-03)1 to monitor and collect plastic litter, as well as to lower the quantity of (micro)plastic in the Mediterranean sea.

European Union has launched a new Horizon Mission programme aiming to restore, protect and preserve the health of our ocean, seas and waters by 2030. The Mission is designed to deliver on the European Union’s 2030 quantified and measurable targets for protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity with actions for zero pollution, and for decarbonisation as well as net greenhouse gas emissions reduction towards climate-neutrality, within the EU’s ocean, seas and waters. This Mission supports many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): in particular restoring our ocean and waters related actions will directly contribute to SDG 14 - Life below water and SDG 6 - Clean water and sanitation, in addition to the SDG13 - Climate action.

The overall objective of the REMEDIES project is to attract public interest for deploying remedies of our seas. The efforts to monitor and collect plastic litter, as well as to prevent the generation of litter in the first place, should become mainstream and an everyday part of our lives. REMEDIES is thus aiming to create a trend of plastic prevention by exploitation of traditional and modern channels and with the help of citizen’s science fostering co-creation of participatory processes building a more plastic-conscious society. To reach this goal, we need to identify appropriate wording and target “pain relievers” of each relevant stakeholder. These REMEDIES will be reached through the following specific objectives:

  • To monitor macro- and microplastic waste in 8 Mediterranean areas.
  • To collect and valorise >422 tons of plastic litter.
  • To prevent the further deposition of an equivalent of >61 tons of plastic.
  • To reach >250,000 people and activate >2,000 citizens.
  • To scale and replicate zero-waste innovations in ~50 more sites.

The REMEDIES consortium (see Figure 1) is coordinated by the National Institute of Chemistry from Slovenia and builds its innovation actions around the three main pillars of monitoring plastic litter, its collection and valorisation, including the prevention of the distribution of non-degradable plastics. Twelve (4 per pillar) breakthrough innovations with be showcased in the next four years as the project focuses on technology readiness level from validation and demonstration in relevant environment to system prototype demonstration in operational environment (i.e. TRL 5-7). All innovative solutions will be tested in 9 demonstration sites in 8 Mediterranean countries. After validation, they will be scaled up in 33 new sites in order to implement them across the whole Mediterranean (see Figure 2).

For our planet, the most promising aspect of REMEDIES is the activation of citizens, especially those affected by the plastic pollution directly on the shorelines. They will be informed, educated and guided to becoming plastic entrepreneurs. Through workshops and mentoring with deeply rooted knowledge base and the right tools they will be able to start their own businesses focused on valorisation of collected plastic litter and the provision of zero-waste solutions to all actors (see Figure 3). Moreover, two types of open calls will be launched in order to to boost the deployment of plastic litter collection and valorisation schemes as well as to push towards the development of zero-waste supply chains that will enhance the prevention of plastic litter. The calls will provide financial support to third parties in the form of grants. As required by call topic conditions, financial support will only be awarded to local and/or regional authorities from an associated region. The 1st call for Collection & valorisation will be launched in September 2023 with a total budget €200.000 (cca 10 grants) and 2nd call Prevention & zero waste in March 2024 with a total budget €300.000 (cca 15 grants).

Figure 3: The pillar of prevention (left), monitoring (middle) and collection (right). All-in-all, we plan to map out the area of 170 km2 for plastic litter, reach circa 100,000 citizens, collect around 400 tons of plastic waste, and build up plastic prevention pathways through scaling and replication for an equivalent of 61 tons of plastic.

REMEDIES is not only an innovation action project for scientists or entrepreneurs. Its ambition stems from including all relevant stakeholders that wish to contribute to a plastic free future. By implementing theirown ideas and projects. By becoming a future plastic entrepreneur. By changing their lifestyle to spread the zero waste way of living. Your participation will make a difference. Together we can have an enormous impact on the local and global community. With joint forces we will prevent and reduce plastic litter and microplastics in the Mediterranean Sea to preserve our planet. Lead by example. Each contribution counts.

VITO is leading the task on the data evaluation and lessons learnt from mapping macro- and microplastics in the Mediterranean Sea together with the task on cost-benefit sustainability analysis of plastic and microplastic litter pollution innovations. In addition we will contribute to the citizen science initiatives.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s HORIZON EUROPE innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101093964 This press release reflects the views only of the author, and all partners of the project REMEDIES and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

1 Topic: HORIZON-MISS-2021-OCEAN-03-01 - Mediterranean sea basin lighthouse - actions to prevent, minimise and remediate litter and plastic pollution
Type of action: HORIZON Innovation Actions
Project starting date: 15 December 2022
Project end date: 14 December 2026
Project duration: 48 months

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