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Marine debries: shells availability and reuse routes

A quantitative analysis of marine stranded debries on the Emilia-Romagna coast has been done as part of the GoBioM Project, financed by ERDFs through the Emilia-Romagna Region. In particular, the fraction of shells collected along the beach has been measured and possible valorization routes has been examined.
Shells from stranded marine debries


Marine debris are receiving an increased attention, manly related to plastic litter and their relevance in polluting the marine environment and the food chain. Part of marine debris reach the shore driven by winds and storms and continuously accumulate on beaches throughout the year, affecting tourism because of landscape degradation. Periodic cleaning operations are conducted in touristic beaches in order to keep these portions of coast free from garbage and other debris and guarantee healthy recreational activities. The identification and the quantification of the original debris composition is poorly investigated, and focuses mainly on man-made polluting materials like plastics, glass, aluminium cans and micro-plastics.

Information regarding collection, handling, processing and final transportation of debris along the Emilia-Romagna Adriatic coast was obtained through various interviews with the staff of the firms involved. The interviewed companies were Hera S.p.A., which is currently responsible for cleaning the beaches of the Rimini and Ravenna Provinces, and CLARA S.p.A., which operates in the coast of the Ferrara Province. During winter, the collected debris are screened directly at the beach, and separated into four different fractions: sand, large logs, medium size debris fraction (MSD) and small size debris (SSD) fraction. The sand, once separated, is stored and analyzed to attests its good quality and then redistributed along the coast. The other fractions are considered as urban waste and currently deposited in landfill.

Two samples (0.03 t each) of the SSD fraction were collected directly from the Rimini sieving site in February and October, to be further separated manually in order to define the main debris fractions. The results have been extrapolated to the full coast length (about 140 km), as shown below.

Shells (6,000 t/y) can be collected and used for the production of calcium carbonate in the Cement industry.





Emilia-Romagna (t/y)

Recovered sand


CWD, wood in MSD and organic in SSD


Unrecovered sand (inside MSD and SSD)





1,260 (*)

Anthropic litters