German and Swedish CONTRA partners KS-VTCtech GmbH, Hanseatische Umwelt, Linnaeus University and Krinova Incubator and Sience Park met online to discuss ways of making soil improvement products from beach wrack. This is nothing new: spreading beach wrack on fields is a long-term practice that has been part of agriculture for hundreds of years. The aim is to give nutrients to the soil. This practice is questioned (or prohibited) due to the high content of heavy metals (cadmium) in beach wrack. More information and clarification on this topic will be provided in future publications by the CONTRA partnership. However project partner Hanseatische Umwelt is refining this practice by producing a compost with a mix of green and blue resources. The blue resource in this case is beach wrack. The end product is a soil improvement substrate which offers excellent qualities for holding water and root growth of plants. In parallel, projects in Sweden are investigating if it is possible to produce biochar from beach wrack, amongst others the project Rest till Bäst (link: https://biokol.org/en/about/). Biochar can be used in urban landscaping and shows great results on plant and tree health resulting in greater ecosystem services and and less money on replacing trees that do not adjust well to their installation.
Overall, CONTRA is conducting a total of seven case studies to further develop existing reuse options and to explore new and innovative recycling possibilities. Krinova is the project partner taking lead on possible business models based on beach wrack. At the moment they are digging into the field and developing a network on soil improvement products, such as compost and biochar based on beach wrack. The discussion with KS-VTCtech GmbH, Hanseatische Umwelt and Linnaeus University confirmed that this direction is supported and that there is definitely an interest in conducting additional research on this application.