Centre for Research-based Innovation – Biodegradable plastics for marine applications

Our research aims to reduce plastic litter and associated problems (ghost fishing, macro and microplastic) caused by the fishery and aquaculture industries. The goal is that traditional plastics in these sectors can be replaced with new biodegradable materials.

  

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Our ambition is to place Norway at the forefront of research, development and use of smart biodegradable materials to reduce the global problem of marine litter caused by the use of plastic in fisheries and aquaculture.

 

Read more about biodegradable plastcs here →

 

The centre will develop research-based solutions and help the industry to develop sustainable innovations for the global market, including:

  • Development of new types of plastics (polymers for fibre to twines, nets and ropes etc.)
  • Test strength, durability and degradation of new materials
  • Thorough testing on vessels and fish farms to clarify the strength, durability and degradability of biodegradable gear.
  • Analyse motivation and effect of incentives to use new materials in the seafood industry.
  • Test and analyse the recyclability of materials for the fishing industry.
  • Dissemination of results to make it easier for business actors to use biodegradable materials.

 

Our focus areas are:

  • Innovation, technology and development of new products.
  • Management conditions and incentives.
  • Value chains, circularity and market access.
  • Profitable and accepted business models.
  • Reduce climate footprint and contributing to achieve the UN´s climate, energy and sustainability goals.

 

 

Dsolve is headed by UiT – The artctic University of Norway.  Four national research institutions, four international research institutions, 14 industrial partners from fisheries, aquaculture and gear suppliers, as well as several public agencies and organizations from the fishery- and aquaculture sector also participate in the center.

 

See all partners →

Administration


Leader of the various research areas


 

10.11.2021

Defining status quo for the material flow of fishing gear on a national and regional level

 

Industry and research partners will work together in the CRI Dsolve to close knowledge gaps about the plastic flow in Norwegian fishery and aquaculture industries. A new report by the CRI partner NORSUS summarizes existing mass flow research regarding the fate of plastics in fishing gear and aquaculture equipment used in the Norwegian seafood industry. Lost at sea, such items can lead to ghost fishing and emission of microplastics affecting life below water. The report documents that there are several missing data points needed to complete the material flow analysis of the seafood industry, especially regarding undocumented loss of plastics in both fishery and aquaculture.

Existing research indicates that 16-29 thousand tons of an estimated stock of 192 thousand tons of plastic equipment are collected and delivered to end-of-life processing each year in the aquaculture sector. There are also losses from wear and tear and undocumented losses which are difficult to quantify. In fishery, approximately 380 tons of fishing gear are assumed lost each year in addition to an estimated 168-289 tons from wear and tear. This accounts for 2% of the fishing gear stock.

Download the report here →

 

News archive

14.10.21 – Dsolve partner LG-Chem teams up with TK Chemical to produce biodegradable plastics

23.09.21 – Isabelle Sande Chair of the SFI Dsolve

13.05.21 – Combating marine waste and ghost fishing with new materials (Gemini)

30.04.21 – Bionedbrytbare garn kan være i utstrakt bruk om åtte år (Teknisk Ukeblad)

28.04.21 – NRK Radio Troms, morgensending (01:29:39)

28.04.21 – Åpning av Dsolve – Senter for utvikling av bionedbrytbar plast i marine applikasjoner

28.02.21 – Forurenser bør betale – også for plast i havet (Fiskeribladet)

16.02.21 – Nedbrytbar plast kan stoppe plastforsøpling fra fiskeri (UiT.no)

15.01.21 – Hvor mye mikroplast kommer fra slitasje på fiskeredskap? (Fiskeridirektoratet)

24.11.20 – "Tidsinnstilt» plast skal ta spøkelsesfisket og mikroplasten ved roten (Fiskeribladet)

24.10.20 – Vi skal bekjempe plastforsøpling i havet med bionedbrytbar plast (Forskersonen.no)

27.06.20 – Tar grep for å sikre dyrevelferden i havet (itromso.no)

Research areas


01 Biodegradable polymer development and optimization

Led by Ravindra Chowreddy, PhD – Norner AS

This research area will develop a range of biodegradable plastic materials with controlled biodegradability and the properties needed for products used in the fishing and aquaculture industries.

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The main objective of this work package is to develop a range of biodegradable plastic materials with controlled biodegradability and the properties needed for products used in fishing and aquaculture industries (e.g., twines and netting, ropes, gillnets, coatings, pots and traps, foils and boxes, pipes and connectors). The developed materials shall meet a range of processing and performance requirements, including biodegradability.

Biodegradable polymers shall be modified using well known approaches such as upgrading with additives, blending with other polymers and compatibilization. Controlled biodegradability will be developed by identifying additional components that may promote or delay biodegradation mechanisms. In addition, new product design strategies shall be developed and tested. In such concepts, the surface material is developed to meet the performance needs and the bulk material is designed to provide fast degradation after the service life. The bulk material can be the same as the surface material but may contain suitable additives for faster degradation or it can be a different material with fast degradation. Further, commercially available biodegradable additives and enzymes shall be evaluated. Furthermore, surface coating concepts shall also be developed and evaluated.

The key research and development tasks are:

Task 1.1. Biodegradable polymers – general knowledge

Task 1.2. Biodegradable polymer material concepts for fiber applications (twines, netting, ropes, etc.)

Task 1.3. Biodegradable polymer material concepts for injection molding applications (pots, traps, boxes, etc.)

Task 1.4. Biodegradable polymer material concepts for coating applications (steel rope coatings)

Task 1.5. Potential microplastics formation from biodegradable plastics

Task 1.6. Establish new collaborations

Task 1.7. New material and design concepts for polymer materials in selected applications in fishing and aquaculture

Norner Research will work closely with DSOLVEs R&D and industry partners in other AREAS in order to develop biodegradable materials that meet requested performance requirements including biodegradability. Norner Research will also evaluate end-of-life options for fishing gear collected on land after service time. Norner Research will evaluate results and implement learnings in an iterative process throughout the project period.


02 Assessment of biodegradability

Led by Dr. Christian Karl – SINTEF Industry

This research area will create a sustainable framework for testing biodegradability and environmental impact. Lab and field testing will be carried out in conditions representing different marine environmental factors. Marine biodegradation will be tested in different marine habitats and climate zones, and biodegradable and conventional tools be compared.

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Problems associated with marine plastic litter caused by the fishery and aquaculture sectors can be significantly reduced if traditional plastics like Polyethylene (PE) or Polyamid (PA) in these sectors are replaced by new biodegradable materials. As shown in previous studies, these biodegradable materials are intended to degrade or decompose after a certain period under water and thereby lose their ghost fishing capacity more quickly than conventional gear. However, small-scale tests have revealed that further research and industrial development is necessary for the commercialization and incorporation of biodegradable plastics in these ocean-based industries. It was shown that biodegradable gillnets experienced a 10-20% strength reduction due to a degradation after one year at sea without leaving traces of microplastics. However, biodegradable gillnets had a 10-15% poorer fishing efficiency than traditional gillnets.

To address this issue, work package 2 will create a framework for testing of biodegradability and environmental impacts. Lab and field testing of biodegradable fishing gear (twine, ropes, nets, etc.) will be carried out in conditions representing different marine environmental conditions. The physical and chemical integrity and degradation of biodegradable and conventional nets and twines will be evaluated during an extended test period (5 years or full degradation) starting in 2021. Marine biodegradation of nets and twines (biodegradable polymers as the test and non-degradable PA/PE as the control) will be tested in situ in different marine habitats (seafloor, water column) in different climate zones (Skagerrak Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, Adriatic Sea, and Norwegian Sea) to cover a wide temperature range of 4 to 27°C. The test conditions will be carefully monitored any changes in the physical and chemical properties of the used materials (surface changes, mechanical properties and change in chemical compositions). The long-term study of biodegradable polymers and fossile polymers as reference materials will make an important contribution to a better understanding of the degradation of polymers in the sea and the degradation mechanisms. In this context, the microbiological, UV, thermal, and chemical degradation will be studied in detail. The tailoring of mechanical properties of the materials used for fishing gear and the degradation as well as its processes will be addressed.

 


03 Gear development, tests and demonstrations at sea

Led by Prof. Bent Herrmann – SINTEF UiT

The industry will need robust and convincing results before production, sales, and practical use (fishing) on a large scale can take place. We expect that identification of accurate needs, development of products, and testing (documentation) will take several years for each research area. Furthermore, a change from traditional to new smart biodegradable materials must include performance, catch pattern, and efficiency analyses (in the case of fishing gears) of existing and new technology. Sea trials will be conducted in Norway, Denmark, Germany and Croatia.

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The key research and development tasks are:

Task 3.1: For gillnets (inshore and deep-sea gillnetting), find a combination of strength/elasticity and catchability that is comparable to or better than existing PA twines during multiple trials conducted on board commercial gillnetters;

Task 3.2: Develop pots and traps based on biodegradable materials targeting brown crab, snow crab, red king crab, and lobster, including recreational pot fisheries;

Task 3.3: Develop biodegradable ropes and components for coastal and deep sea longlines, because millions of nylon and polyester snoods are used every season and a large proportion of these get lost at sea;

Task 3.4: Identify several possibilities for replacing PE, PA, and PES fibres with biodegradable fibres for use in twines, ropes, and netting (all fishing gears), as all fishing gears and aquaculture equipment are composed of a range of twines with various tensile strengths, abrasion resistance, twine surface area, etc.;

Task 3.5: Full-scale tests of dolly-ropes and chafing mats for use in demersal (bottom) trawling;

Task 3.6: Develop an alternative to combination ropes (30–60 mm thick PE coating with steel-wire core) for demersal seining; while they help to herd fish, thus increasing catch efficiency, they lose almost half their mass as microplastics during their service time due to abrasion by the seabed.

Scientific methods:

Testing in the Norwegian, North, Baltic, and Adriatic Seas will ensure that we obtain data about the performance of biodegradable twines and ropes, the catch efficiency of nets, and how degradation varies in relation to different environmental conditions. This will enable extrapolation to other fisheries and help to promote use of biodegradable fishing gears internationally. In Norway, sea trials will be conducted under commercial conditions on board fishing vessels. Catch comparison analysis will be based on comparing length size distributions of species caught and will be carried out using appropriate software and following published statistical methods and models. Catch quality will be assessed if needed. Assessing the extent of unaccounted for fishing mortality of gillnets and pots will be conducted by simulating lost gears in pre-defined and controlled areas. Full-scale testing will be conducted by building codends with dolly-ropes made of conventional PE rope and bio ropes. The codends will be fished simultaneously in a twin trawl setup and used by a trawler during an entire fishing season. Researchers will weigh the amount (and measure the length) of dolly-ropes in the codend before and after the fishing trials, and they will measure the length of the dolly-rope fibres monthly. In Denmark, Germany, and Croatia, a similar methodology will be used to evaluate catch efficiencies and gear degradation.


04 Governance incentives to increase the use of biodegradable materials

Led by Prof. Claire Armstrong – UiT - Arctic University of Norway

This research area will assess the economic effects of non-biodegradable materials used in fisheries and aquaculture and evaluate the costs and benefits related to ecosystem services from introducing biodegradable materials in the marine industries. Further analyse institutional incentive mechanisms, and assess public support systems to reduce risk and promote implementation of biodegradable innovations.

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Little is known about the consequences of using biodegradable versus non-biodegradable materials in fisheries and aquaculture industries. This lack of knowledge relates to the environments where these industries operate, the costs and benefits involved, and potential management and governance approaches of relevance for policy goals.

We will assess the economic effects of non-biodegradable materials used in fisheries and aquaculture, evaluate the costs and benefits related to ecosystem services from introducing biodegradable materials in the marine industries, and analyse institutional incentive mechanisms to increase the use of biodegradable applications. Furthermore, we will assess public support systems to reduce risk and promote implementation of biodegradable innovations.

Comparative economic studies between non-users and users of biodegradable gears in fisheries and aquaculture, and studies on regulatory changes needed to enhance the use of biodegradable materials in these industries will be developed. In fisheries this involves biological dynamics, catch efficiency and market performance, and must be studied in state-of-the-art bioeconomic models. The aquaculture production setting is very different, while materials in gears and equipment to some extent can be compared. Waste and discards are problems in both industries but in different ways requiring different approaches for analysis. Furthermore, we will study governance structures and how to promote incentives in the use of biodegradable plastics in fisheries and aquaculture by management means. Since use of biodegradable input factors will likely increase internal factor costs, while the external costs may be expected to decline, institutional incentives and other regulations will be needed in order to reduce the use of plastics.


05 Circularity of bio-based, biodegradable and non-degradable plastics

Led by Cecilia Askham, PhD – NORSUS

This research area will develop sustainable circular solutions for existing non-degradable and future biodegradable fishing gear. The goal is to develop environmentally sustainable value chains which also take the level of circularity into account.

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The work will be based on LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) methodology, an established method that evaluates the environmental burdens associated with a product system by identifying and describing the energy and material uses and releases into the environment. An LCA includes the entire life cycle of the product, from raw material extraction, through materials processing, transport, use and disposal or recycling at the end of the product's life (from "cradle to grave" or “cradle to cradle”). LCA can be used to understand if changes in one part of a product life cycle can lead towards greater overall sustainability. It focuses on the function(s) that the product system fulfils. LCA does not currently account for the impacts of plastic losses in value chains (e.g., littering). Hence, the issue of how macro and microplastic emission data are translated into environmental impacts represents a knowledge gap in the international LCA field.

Key research tasks in research area 5 are:

  • Define the status quo for the material flow of the fishing gear on a national and regional level documenting:
    • The proportion of used fishing gear delivered for further processing and depositing;
    • Loss of mass due to wear and tear;
    • Documented loss of gear; and
    • Undocumented loss of gear;
  • Perform LCA assessments of specific fishing gear systems and materials, taking into account the entire value chain from production to end-of-life in order to:
    • Develop circular value chains for fossil-based non-degradable and biodegradable fishing gear by linking the value chains and continuously providing value chain actors with valuable information in order to develop beneficial upstream and downstream processes.
    • Enable increased and environmentally beneficial recycling by investigating different ways of recycling fossil-based non-degradable and bio-based-/biodegradable plastics from fishing gear, and converting them into innovative products. Identifying solutions further up the waste pyramid (towards reuse or recycling of materials) will be in focus.
    • Assess the potential leak of plastics from fisheries and aquaculture to the sea (both non-degradable and degradable plastics) and their potential environmental effects.
    • Provide information and new knowledge regarding the areas described above in order to achieve interactive processes for developing sustainable systems.
  • Identify research gaps and suggest future research activities
  • Cooperate with ongoing international relevant work associated with the MarILCA project https://marilca.org/ in order to contribute to the development of LCA methodology to also account for impacts of plastic losses and marine litter.

06 Communication and dissemination of results

Led by Hilde Rødås Johnsen, Advisor – UiTSALT Lofoten AS

This research area will develop and carry out a dynamic plan for outreach through communication, dissemination and exploitation of results in order to maximise the impact of the project results.

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The aim of this research area is to develop and carry out a dynamic plan for outreach through communication, dissemination, and exploitation of results in order to maximise the impact of the results from Dsolve. A plan for communication, dissemination and exploitation of results (DEP) is to be developed in the beginning of the CRI and updated on a regular basis during the centre's life span. The plan is to include not only plans for suitable conferences, trade fairs, and national and international exhibitions, but also specifications about the promotion channels to be used, the timing for awareness raising about results, and the responsible partner. The outcomes of this area will include seminar and workshop proceedings, a public website, presentations at major events, publications in specialised and extension journals and magazines, a collection of press releases, video production, asocial media strategy (SoMe), and public datasets used in the CRI. Dialogue with affected industries and stakeholders through seminars, workshops, and networking will be emphasized. Existing meeting arenas within the industry and networks, will be used for effective outreach to industry and stakeholders.

Key tasks are

Task 6.1: Dissemination activities

Task 6.2: Communication activities

Task 6.3: Exploitation of results

Publications

 

Standal D., Grimaldo E., B. Larsen R. (2020). Governance implications for the implementation of biodegradable gillnets in Norway. ScienceDirect Volume 122.

 

Grimaldo E., Herrmann B., Tveit G., Vollstad J., Schei M. (2018a). Effect of using biodegradable PBSAT gillnets on the catch efficiency and quality of Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides). Mar. Coast. Fish. 10: 619–629. 

 

Grimaldo E., Herrmann B., Vollstad J., Su B., Moe-Føre H., Larsen R.B. (2018b). Fishing efficiency of biodegradable PBSAT gillnets and conventional nylon gillnets used in Norwegian cod (Gadus morhua) and saithe (Pollachius virens) fisheries. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 75(6): 2245–2256.

 

Grimaldo E., Herrmann B., Vollstad J., Su B., Moe-Føre H., Larsen R.B. (2019). Comparison of fishing efficiency between biodegradable gillnets and conventional nylon gillnets. Fish. Res. 213: 67–74. 

 

Grimaldo E., Herrmann B., Jacques N., Vollstad J., Su B. (2020). Effect of mechanical properties of monofilament twines on the catch efficiency of biodegradable gillnets. PLOSONE

 

Biao Su, Heidi Moe Føre,  Eduardo Grimaldo. A Comparative Study of Mechanical Properties of Biodegradable PBSAT and PA Gillnets in Norwegian Coastal Waters. OMAE2019-95350, V004T03A001. 

 

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