A project to encourage the use of marine waste plastic for making products, earning money and boosting the rural economy has won a special prize at a European Union wide ceremony.
Circular Ocean, run by the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso, part of the UHI, was voted top project by attendees at the prestigious RegioStars award ceremony in Brussels on Tuesday.
According to its website, the “Circular Ocean project will act as a catalyst to motivate and empower remote and rural communities to develop novel and robust business opportunities that are environmentally sustainable and enhance income generation and retention in these regions.”
The project involves countries in the arctic and peripheral northern areas and could potentially lead the way to fresh industries in outlying areas as well as clean up the ocean. The idea is for marine litter to be collected, sorted, re-processed and manufactured into new products.
Project coordinator Dr Neil James, from the ERI said “On behalf of the Circular Ocean project partners it is my pleasure to express our sheer delight at winning the RegioStars Public Choice Award 2016. It is an absolute honour to receive the first ever Public Choice Award, in addition to being a finalist in the category of Sustainable Growth: Circular Economy.
“The award is testimony to the hard work and dedication of our project partners (ERI, Macroom E, CfSD, NTNU, and ARTEK), who are deeply passionate about the issue of marine litter, sustainable development of the Northern Periphery and Arctic region, and the progression to a more circular economy.
“To be present among a select group of innovative and cutting-edge transnational projects is inspirational, and will further motivate us to positively impact local economies of the NPA region, whilst facilitating the reduction of marine litter and waste.
“As lead partner we are extremely proud of Circular Ocean and are honoured to lead such a wonderful and innovative project which is only possible through transnational collaboration, and exchange of knowledge and expertise. We would like express our gratitude to the Northern Periphery and Arctic programme for providing funding to make our project a reality.”
The awards ceremony took place during the European Week of Regions and Cities, with the award presented to the Circular Ocean team by the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu.
One of the key objectives of the awards is to identify good practices in regional development and highlight original and innovative projects which could be attractive and inspiring to other regions. Winning this award has put the spotlight on Circular Ocean as being one of the most innovative and inspiring EU funded projects.