The raw materials of which plastic products are made are polymers, usually delivered in the form of small pellets. Antwerp is the main polymer hub in Europe for production, handling and distribution of plastic pellets and every year, millions of pellets find their way via Antwerp to other hubs in Europe.
Thus, preventing these small plastic pellets getting into the water or anywhere else where they are not wanted is currently at the centre of the port's activity. Antwerp is the first port in Europe to sign up for “Operation Clean Sweep”, an initiative of PlasticsEurope.
In particular, the main challenge of this project is to reduce the loss of pellets to the absolute minimum. Weekly monitoring will be done to discover the places where plastics can be found in the environment, so that the pollution can be traced to its source and action taken to prevent it. An incident manager will keep watch on pollution and take action to clear it up whenever necessary. The costs of all this will be shared among the various participants.
As port alderman Marc Van Peel noted: “Sustainable enterprise is now deep in the genes of our port companies. They work hard in all sectors to reconcile people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. The signing of this charter today is the best proof of the great importance attached to this subject in the world of plastics.”