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North-east entrepreneur looking to transform sea pollution into plastic bricks


A north-east entrepreneur has come up with a plan to tackle plastic pollution by turning it into bricks for the construction industry.

Charlie Wilson of Aberdeen University’s Research and Innovation team came up with the idea to grind down plastics from polluted seas and rivers and turn it into usable materials.

A fleet of retrofitted vessels would scour rivers and oceans, collecting both submerged and floating debris.

The scheme has reached the semi-final stage of the nationwide Converge KickStart Challenge and Charlie hopes that winning the £10,000 cash prize would enable the project to leap from drawing board to reality.

The SEACLEAN project leader said: “Both nationally and internationally, waste at sea from oil fields, fishing, cruise ships and simple dumping is affecting beaches, coastlines and rivers.

“This project is urgently required as it is clear that there is too much plastic pollution in the seas at the moment.

“SEACLEAN can make an impact by recycling all collected debris into usable plastic bricks for the construction industry, as well as cash in on the high scrap values for metal waste.

“These are simple processes that can turn unwanted commodities into usable raw materials for the construction industry.”

Charlie believes there is a market for his solution and is confident that north-east businesses would be interested.

He said: “Eventually we want to target the offshore market, which offers numerous opportunities to collect and retrieve discarded oil field equipment and metal waste.

“The market for this service is potentially colossal, but it’s only now that we are seeing the impetus required to turn this idea into something really big.

“We have the offer of potential funding, and we have the skills and equipment to take this forward.

“Our initial target market is local councils responsible for our rivers and coastlines. That simply takes the knowledge of the tides and will provide a quick fix to what has become a massive problem.”

The Converge Kickstart Challenge will provide Charlie with two days of tailored business training prior to the submission of his business case.

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, director of Converge, said: “It’s heartening to see so many universities respond to the climate emergency by supporting many incredible ideas and innovations that have the power to change lives.”

The winners of the awards will be announced on February 27.


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