Guimarães starts project to collect and recover plastics from rivers

Over the next six months, CLEANUP4Guimarães will involve citizens and municipal and academic organisations in promoting the circular economy.

In the municipality of Guimarães, recent studies have revealed that plastic and textile waste together account for 97 per cent of the materials collected on river banks, posing a significant threat to aquatic ecosystems and increasing the risk of plastic bioaccumulation. To combat this problem, Guimarães City Council, in partnership with the Landscape Laboratory and the University of Minho, launched CLEANUP4Guimarães, a six-month project that aims to create a multi-stakeholder ecosystem centred on citizen participation that promotes inter-cooperation, innovation and entrepreneurship in cleaning up the municipality’s rivers, protecting biodiversity, as well as in the process of recovering the plastic waste collected. The project, carried out under the European REMEDIES programme, represents an investment of 90,000 euros.

To this end, the municipality will implement an integrative CLEANUP-RIVER system, which promotes collaboration between the municipality, the university, citizens, private companies and NGOs, with the aim of identifying critical points in local freshwater ecosystems and employing ecological techniques (sustainable eco-barriers) for the efficient collection of rubbish in the water column. This approach will enable collection, cleaning/sorting, recycling/processing and the promotion of new value chains for plastic waste. The macro- and micro-plastics collected will be segregated, characterised and categorised, with the aim of proposing recovery processes through recycling and reuse, promoting the circular economy in the region. In the case of non-reusable and non-recyclable plastics (such as single-use plastics), they will be converted into energy resources and used to raise public awareness.

CLEANUP4Guimarães will therefore encompass different strategies that combine citizen involvement and environmental education activities, including clean-up actions centred on the removal of plastics and textiles, and the construction of floating eco-barriers. At the end of the project, an e-book will be produced with practical instructions for collecting, analysing and subsequently reusing plastics in the upcycling process, transferable to other regions of Portugal or even other parts of the world.

CLEANUP4Guimarães is another step in the municipal climate strategy

CLEANUP4Guimarães is part of the European REMEDIES programme, which aims to start a trend in plastic waste prevention by involving the general public and implementing joint actions for a more environmentally conscious society. The project’s innovative and integrated approach advocates a method of ecologically cleaning rivers, helping to improve water quality (in line with the UN’s 6th Sustainable Development Goal) and preventing plastic waste from reaching the oceans. In addition, the citizen science component (including workshops, campaigns, training and outreach activities) will raise awareness in society and increase understanding of the sources and cleaning processes of macro- and microplastics in freshwater ecosystems among different age groups in the local community.

Finally, the project seeks to inspire other municipalities and organisations to take action in their jurisdictions by replicating, adapting and improving the methodology used. It should also be noted that by incorporating this project into its Sustainable Development Action Plan – Guimarães 2030, Guimarães is reinforcing its commitment to improving water quality, protecting ecosystems and biodiversity. It should also be noted that the municipality has been a pioneer in sustainable development since 2013, adopting the innovative “Guimarães 2030: Governance Ecosystem” model, which promotes decarbonisation and the fight against climate change, both in terms of infrastructure and citizen involvement. Translated with (free version)