Affordable Ocean Plastic Recycling: Women In Innovation

We are excited to announce that, Joan D’Arcy, director and co-founder of Plastic@Bay, was one of the winners of the Women In Innovation 2020. Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation competition, aims to get more women with excellent ideas innovating within UK businesses. Our innovating project is to design affordable low-tech facilities to recycle ocean plastic and end-of-life fishing gear, which can be replicated in areas adversely affected by plastic pollution and harbours. We will achieve this by first building a low-tech extrusion line and die* capable of recycling fishing nets and ropes into plastic lumber. Secondly, by accompanying our design with a robust business plan and marketing strategy to ensure our facilities become successful and sustainable enterprises.

Personally, the Woman In Innovation Award is recognition for the hard work me and my partner have put in over the last years. For Plastic@Bay it means we can finally realise our innovation to bring ocean plastic recycling to the heart of the problem. Our project is ambitious. I am fortunate to have the help of my partner, Julien Moreau, co-founder of Plastic@Bay, and our dedicated and enthusiastic engineering intern, Guillaume Pic-Rivière

– Dr. Joan D’Arcy

Our motivation

  • We observed that 90% of ocean pollution washing ashore in NW Scotland is from fishing, aquaculture and shipping industries.
  • There is no long term government strategy for disposing of old fishing gear.
  • Fishing gear is often abandoned or discarded at sea and ultimately becomes the ocean plastic that washes onto our shores.
  • There is no facility in the UK that recycles fishing nets and ropes.

Our Innovation

If we design an affordable ocean plastic recycling facility that specializes in recycling fishing rope and nets, we can;

  • Recycling between 30-50% of the ocean plastic we remove.
  • Directly recycle end-of-life fishing gear in harbours, offering fishermen a free environmentally friendly option to dispose of old fishing gear.
  • Make the facility low-tech and affordable so any community or harbour can replicate the facility.
  • Create a sustainable enterprise to create jobs in rural coastal communities adversely affected by ocean plastic pollution.

Meet the team

Julien Moreau: Research and Development Leader

Julien is the backbone of the project. His inspiration and dedication have put Plastic@Bay at the forefront of low-tech ocean plastic recycling innovation. Julien will be designing and building a low-tech extrusion machine based on designs by Precious Plastic, with upgrades for increased energy efficiency and productivity. The new machine will be specialized to recycle fibres from shredded fishing nets and ropes and be capable of continuous extrusion of up to 30kg/hour. Julien will also help design the recycling facility and supervise Guillaume during his internship.

Guillaume Pic-Rivière : Engineering Internship

We are very lucky to have the smart and enthusiastic, Guillaume doing his internship with us. Guillaume is a trained mechanical engineer from INSA-Rennes (France). He joined the team last Summer to help Julien developed the first die* prototypes. Guillaume’s internship is a nouvelle project that involves developing a low-tech die system to make plastic lumber using our upgraded extrusion machine. Due to travel restrictions, he will complete his internship in INSA’s leading-edge metal workshop in Rennes. Guillaume is very dedicated to the cause, after his internship he plans to develop a method to make boats from recycled ocean plastic.

Joan D’Arcy: Project Manager

Joan will fuse the project. She will take the designs of Julien and Guillaume, incorporate them into an affordable ocean plastic recycling workspace. With the help of experts from KTN (Knowledge Transfer Network), Innovate UK and Innovate UK Edge, she will compile a robust business plan and marketing strategy to ensure the project is both financially viable and sustainable. On completion, Joan will present our project to local, regional and national stakeholders as an affordable green solution for recycling ocean plastic and end-of-life fishing gear.

This project will run from April 2021-March 2022. Please join us on our journey by reading our news letter and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates.

Low tech extrusion machine

*Extrusion is a process used to create objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile. A material is pushed through a die of the desired cross-section. A die is a specialized machine tool used in manufacturing industries to cut and/or form material to a desired shape or profile. In our case we will extrude simple rectangular profiles to make plastic lumber, to make fence posts, garden furniture and other non-load-bearing construction material.