First microplastic collection device installed and tested on a ship

Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has teamed up with Miura, a Japanese ballast water treatment system manufactured to install a microplastic collection device on one of its new wood chip carrier.

Microplastics effects

The term “microplastics” refers to 5mm or smaller micro-size plastic resulting from discarded plastic in the ocean that is broken down by ultraviolet rays and wave action.

The issue with microplastics is well documented and has been widely discussed in recent years. Due to their very small size microplastics are able to flow through most waste-water filtration systems and end up marine ecosystems. They are then mistaken for food by fish, turtles or birds and end up blocking their digestive tracts, leading most times to starvation and death.

Ballast treatment with microplastic collection

MOL claims to be the first and only known operator in the world to install and demonstrate the microplastic collective device on a merchant vessel. The system is designed to collect the microplastics using a filter with backwashing function (see schematic below), just before the water is discharged overboard.

In their press release MOL, however, does not provide too much information on the equipment and what were the exact results of the recent demonstration conducted on a new-build wood chip carrier. They do declare that the device is a work in progress and that the team is continuously working to enhance its performance in collecting even the smallest microplastic.

Efforts aimed to protect the Marine Environment using merchant vessels

This initiative aims to control marine plastic waste, which is a major concern as it leads to global-scale environmental pollution.

MOL’s initiative on ocean plastic pollution started with the participation in the “Plastic Smart” forum hosted by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, expanding since then its activities with concern with marine plastic pollution-related scientific research. In their press release, MOL declared to be committed to the global environmental conservation, which is considered a key to its corporate philosophy, proactively promoting environmental measures while moving ahead with efforts to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Miura also contributes to the global ocean environmental conservation through ballast water treatment systems, and as of recently, with microplastic collection devices. As set out in their corporate mission statement, “contributing to creating a society that is environmentally friendly and ways of living that are clean and comfortable through our work in the field of the Energy, Water, and Environment

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