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Tackling marine pollution from EPS

© Claudia Amico/WWF

Expanded Polystyrene (or EPS) is the most common packaging material for the transport and storage of fish in the fishing industry. But they are also one of the most common components of marine litter that is found floating at sea or washed up along coastlines, due to accidental loss at sea from fishing boats, or waste mismanagement and inadequate recycling infrustructures. 

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With 14,000 tonnes of EPS are used every year in Italy in the fishing indutry. Italy is the biggest consumer in the EU, but it still recycles small portions of them.

© Claudia Amico/WWF

The 18- month- project aims at identifying a more sustainable alternative to EPS fishboxes for Italian small-scale fisheries and test its implementation in fishing communities in Italy.

We started with a comparative assessment of the life cycle of different packaging solutions for fresh fish currently available on the European market, with a focus on Italy, and Eco-design study for the development of an innovative packaging solution that resulted as the best performing from the ecological and economic point of view.

The identification and the development of an innovative packaging solution was done through the involvement of many different stakeholders along the supply chain, from fishing communities to research institutes, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as waste management and recycling companies.

The innovative packaging solution is made of two separate components: a reusable FSC wooden box and an internal tray in extruded polystyrene (XPS) that is made of recycled (50%) and fully recyclable material, in line with the principles of a circular economy.
The solution is being tested with small and medium-sized fishers in Spadafora and Portorosa (Sicily) and Chioggia (Veneto).

The results collected from their use and their feedback will provide us the needed insight for its further distribution in the sector in italy and potentially other Mediterranean countries.

The project is funded by Flotilla Foundation and is being developed thanks to the collaboration of Mapping LCA (Università di Trieste, Quotasette Srl), Magic Pack Srl, Federlegno Arredo, Co.Ge.Coopesca Portorosa soc.Coop. (COGEPA), and Corepla.