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New life for mussel farming waste: MEDSEA, University and Nieddittas at work on eco-design

The Blue Eco Lab, the design laboratory that, according to the principles of the circular economy, recovers waste from the Nieddittas company's fish production in the Gulf of Oristano comes to life. In the creation of street furnishings for urban decoration. 

The activities of the Blue Eco Lab were promoted by Nieddittas, a company that manages the entire mussel farming supply chain in the Gulf of Oristano, coordinated by the MEDSEA Foundation for the protection and conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems, in collaboration with the Department of Civil, Environmental and Territorial Engineering of the University of Cagliari. The main goal of the project is to give a new life to the waste materials of mussel farming through the design of eco-design solutions designed and built in Sardinia. 

“From the first exchange of ideas with Nieddittas management, we decided that this project should be different from the others. - explains Alessio Satta of the MEDSEA Foundation - A project conceived and implemented in Sardinia in every smallest component: the waste material of mussel farming, its transformation into secondary raw material, the machinery for the extrusion of plastics and recycled and above all the know-how of young Sardinian talents ". 

The waste material from the Nieddittas company's mussel production was transformed into secondary raw material by the Ecoplastar Group company located in the province of Cagliari. The machinery for the extrusion of this particular type of plastics exposed to marine degradation conditions was instead built at the Meccanica Turchi company in Gallura. 

After a first phase of calibration and adaptation of the extruder to the new materials, the designers of MEDSEA and the technicians of the University of Cagliari have begun to transform the plastic waste, waste from the Nieddittas company, into recycled plastic profiles of different sizes. 

The profiles, made of polypropylene, are simple elements but of great structural versatility, which can be used for the production of various types of products; in this first project phase their use is aimed at the production of street furniture elements. 

“The first tests have returned satisfactory results, with an average value of compressive strength equal to 80Mpa and tensile strength equal to 7Mpa. - says Professor Mauro Coni, coordinator of the “Roads, Railways and Airports” group of the Department of Civil, Environment and Territory Engineering and scientific manager of the experimentation activities - These are preliminary tests; It will now be necessary to study the behavior of the elements on the basis of combinations such as extrusion temperature, impurities in the plastics, time speed and holding time of the material during the production process. All the conditions are met, and we are confident that it will be possible to further improve the characteristics of these elements and a second series of tests is confirming our hypothesis”. 

"Of the 35.6 million tons of plastic introduced into the waste recovery process, in 2021 - explains Paola Riviezzo, architect and chief designer of the MEDSEA Blue Lab - Europe has reached an overall recycling rate of 23.1 %. The world produces double the amount of plastic waste compared to two decades ago, most of which ends up in landfills, incinerated or dispersed in the environment, and only 9% is successfully recycled. In this scenario, circular economy, upcycling and eco-design are examples of concepts that are having more and more success not only in the design field but also in the industrial one ". 

"Our initiative, unique of its kind, is part of a global context in full swing and we have decided to promote it to affirm once again the values ​​that distinguish our company, which has always been attentive to innovation and sustainability. - explains Caterina Murgia, CEO of Nieddittas - Values ​​that are added to those of enhancement and protection of our territory, since for the first time a project of this magnitude and importance is carried out entirely in Sardinia, with the collaboration of Sardinian realities and with a great effort to promote the 0 km circular economy. Our hope is to become an example in this direction for many other realities ". 

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