An ocean of accumulated waste thanks to tidal flats
The TEO association, based in La Rochelle, installs tidal ferries on the coast of Aquitaine to promote the collection of marine litter and raise awareness of ocean pollution. Data recovery should also contribute to improving waste management at source.
Unfortunately, not only fish and algae swim in the seas. Boats in the water also do not throw their waste into the sea. There is what Ocean Cleanup calls the 7th continent, plastic waste polluting the blue planet. Add to that a lot of other trash that regularly washes up on beaches.
Fabrice Forre, a sailor on the world’s seas for ten years, is particularly sensitive to this problem. In 2011, he decided to start Tahoe Eco-Organization, a cooperative society that initiates projects or responds to challenges in the field of coastal protection. Goal: reduce the impact of plastic and waste on the environment. ” A way to create a sustainable ecology “Says Fabrice Faure, who pioneered the construction of canoes as a means of education in Oceania and then in France. Hence the name Taho’e: “group unity” in Polynesian. Since then, the idea has mostly made its way across the Atlantic coast. Therefore, the association should soon be called Territoires Environnement Océans without changing the initials of its name.
Blue line on plastic
Since 2018, TEO based in La Rochelle (Charente Maritime) has been piloting the “Trait Bleu” program to reduce the impact of plastic pollution on the coast. So get down to the beaches of Charente Maritime, more broadly the Atlantic coast of New Aquitaine, the tidal ferries. ” The aim is to encourage tourists and pedestrians to pick up plastic, wood, glass and metal waste. Then put them in these big boxes lined up on the beach »TEO Project Manager Lena Dugros explains.
“Information panels on each bin detail how to use it, even if it often finds picnic leftovers. This is the reason why they are available on the site from September to April outside the tourist season, says the young woman. Only to recover wastes brought back by large tidal coefficients. They disappear in the summer, because they will be used as classic litter boxes, and this is not their profession. In particular, their specific collection is the responsibility of the municipalities “.
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Therefore, TEO has created a collection system with municipalities, communities, integrated companies, foundations and voluntary associations (such as Surfrider or Ocean Wings) involved in cleaning beaches. Local authorities support funding (about 100 euros per month per ferry, two or three times the municipality). Integrating companies, in turn, are involved in their construction and then sorting waste to collect weight-volume data by category. For three years, an average of about one ton was harvested per litter.
” This allows you to identify the origin by activity, comments by Lena Dugros. Then there is talk of sending information back to the Ministry of Environmental Transition to improve the management policy and the Extended Producer Responsibility system according to the polluter pays principle. The announced goal for 2025 is to operate on the whole life cycle of these REP products as there is zero waste in the sea and to change the rules. Researchers mainly make observations; TEO is independent and offers solutions “.
It is a tool for awareness, management and integration
Thus, totem boxes have become tools for raising awareness, territorial cohesion, and environmental performance. They symbolize social, environmental and public health issues. Taking into account the waste collected in this way, it turns out that in Charente Maritime more than half comes from shellfish (glasses, tubes, nets, bags, etc.). Consultation with these sectors then led to the AMO (Oyster Environment Improvement) project to clean up and reoccupy vacant lots on the Charente coast. Oyster farmers mobilized to clear areas such as Angoulins near La Rochelle by providing tractors and volunteer labor.
AMO also covers all research. Environmental and Biodiversity Scientists. Biological on analysis of degradability and impact of plastics on Charentais pertuis. Finally, social on the evolution of the experiences of oyster farmers, tourists, and foot fishermen. These studies were funded by the District, Water Management Agency, Ministry of Ecological Transition. And it is managed by researchers from the University of La Rochelle and the Gironde Estuary and Pertuis Marine Nature Park.
Another project is underway with ONF and Siteo to expand the tidal ferry network in the Gironde and Landes. And to characterize the companies’ packaging waste, to negotiate new sectors within the framework of the REP.
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From the ocean to the rivers
To this day, about a hundred tidal ferries operate along the coast of Aquitaine, especially in the Charente. TEO is now directing its activities upwards. Returning to the source by tackling plastic waste in water bodies and rivers. The association is also considering bubble dams to recover waste and wood after floods upstream or downstream from cities.
Works on Garonne, de Pau and Oloron, Adur and Charente explored. However, these operations promise to be more delicate than the coast, with the banks of rivers and streams often less accessible than beaches. ” It sometimes overflows the dumps, especially after a flood or floodLena Dugros highlights. In the Garonne, even after the flood, we found agricultural tarps 10 meters high between the trees. “. A new challenge for TEO and its partners. ♦
- Education and awareness
Senior citizens, school children and college students who often walk the inlets as part of awareness and collection operations prove to be the best students of the coast guard. An educational kit on “Why to avoid plastic in the environment” has also been published. In particular, to protect the victims of the ingestion of microplastics, e.g. animals.
Above all, it is about insisting on the precautionary principle. Because the main limitation of installing tidal ferries is that all marine debris is full of persistent organic pollutants. For plastics, micropollutants, especially heavy metals, real vacuum cleaners are not recyclable. Therefore, they go to landfill or incineration. Only a pyrolysis treatment can neutralize them, but the very expensive sector is not profitable.
In this context, TEO also works with the Zero Waste Wild platform. Created by the MerTerre association and boating members Les Copains à Bord, they are responsible for explaining and raising awareness of litter collection on the beach.