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Rolling up the Past towards the Circular Economy

As part of a National program in Norway which will see 40% of the coastline cleaned from plastic waste this year, with a focus on hard-to-reach areas and areas with vulnerable nature and wildlife, we see here Rune Muladal, one of the coordinators of Naturtjenester i Nord, responsible for the cleaning of some of the more remote coastlines of Finnmark around Laksefjorden, during a mission this June. With a mountain of bags full of collected plastic waste in the background, we see him untangling the telephone lines that used to connect the now uninhabited town of Tømmervik, with a nearby whaling industry centre of the bygone era. The town was named thus due to the timber that washes ashore from the Russian timber industry - giving rise to an interesting dependency on the sea's currents for firewood in a region without many trees. Unfortunately, this means the area equally is a final resting place for plastic waste - predominantly of the fishing industry. As we collectively rolled up the telephone lines, that left to rust and out of use were prone to ensnare wildlife, and as we dug up fishing nets and other waste from beneath stones and sand that was later all collected by helicopter, we were doing a type of archaeology of the present, or perhaps undoing an archaeology of the future: Removing the residues of a wasteful past and present, towards a pollution-free circular economy of the future. Hopefully some of the waste will be processed for recycling, although most will probably be burnt - however some of the fishing buoys found will be repurposed by local fishermen who helped organise the local effort logistically.


Laksefjorden, Barents Sea, vicinity of Tømmervik

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