»When ‘SeeKühe’ and ‘SeeElefanten’ meet and the ‘SeeElefant’ grabs the ‘SeeKuh’ with his onboard crane, one imagines being in a B-movie. But this marine litter cleanup by the company One Earth – One Ocean could play a role in helping solve one of the greatest global environmental challenges: The littering of our oceans.«Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter
Three questions for Günther Bonin, Board Member of the One Earth - One Ocean Association
Can you remember the moment when you first had the idea for Marine Litter Cleanup?
As a sailor, I noticed early on how plastic waste in water bodies is damaging to the environment. During a sailing trip where the crew simply threw their waste overboard, it became clear to me that something had to be done about this problem. From 2011 onwards, I began to develop the concept of Marine Litter Cleanup through the use of special collecting vessels and the SeeElefant as a recycling and recovery vessel. Ten years ago, I was ridiculed as a utopian. Today, our concept is taken seriously.
What was your personal highlight in the development process for Marine Litter Cleanup? Was there a low point?
The highlight was the preparation of the SeeElefant feasibility study by an expert team that included shipbuilding engineers and recycling specialists. All of this was financed and made possible by our sponsor, the Röchling Foundation. The study, which included a detailed implementation concept for investors, was completed in May 2019.
Of course, there are delays, and the realisation of the concept is dependent on financial backers. You have to do a lot of convincing. But there are more successes than failures.
Where do you see yourself and your project in the next five years?
We are the only organisation in the world that offers a complete and workable concept for the collection and recovery of plastic waste from oceans, rivers and freshwaters. I am very confident that we will soon be seeing the launch of the first SeeElefant. In five years, One Earth – One Ocean will be launching further international waste collection projects and will have implemented at least one SeeElefant, which we can then use all around the world to present the overall concept for Marine Litter Cleanup.