Galgeschoor plastic challenge

Every year, Port of Antwerp organises a clean-up campaign for the Galgeschoor-mudflat nature reserve. This year, more than 400 volunteers collected no less than 8 tons of waste. Unfortunately, there are still millions of small plastic particles that cannot be cleaned by hand.



These small plastics are transported year after year by the 350 km long Scheldt that crosses many cities and eventually washes up by the tides. This nature reserve also has to contend with industrial plastic pellets (polymers as raw material for many products) that have been lost over the years and have accumulated in this mud and salt marshes area.


In order to tackle this at the source, Port of Antwerp, together with the entire plastics sector, has put its shoulders to the 'Operation Clean Sweep ©' charter in which we strive for 'Zero Pellet Loss'.


But what about these small plastics that are now entangled in this nature reserve?




Do you have the solution on how to remove those millions of tiny plastic particles from the Galgeschoor? You will face a some challenges:

  • The Galgeschore is a mudflat and salt marsh area that is constantly in motion due to the tides.
  • It houses a unique fauna and flora, which of course may not be disturbed.
  • The small plastic particles are only a few millimetres in size.
  • The plastics are entangled in many types of vegetation and soils that are difficult to access.
  • ...


The nominees are selected


Port of Antwerp challenges you to come up with a feasible solution in a multitude of factors such as technical, budgetary, logistics and environmental! We received many creative solutions and are have now selected three nominees?


  • Arcadis
  • Deme Group
  • Envisan (Jan De Nul Group)




For this challenge, the Port of Antwerp is organizing a competition in which the winner has a chance of winning a fantastic prize!

During the first round you or your team pitch the concept and/or ideas for a group of experts. In this phase of the challenge, you will have to propose a concept of your solution that will convince the expert team of experts that:


  • Your concept will offer the best solution
  • You can develop this concept into a concrete technically, economically and ecologically feasible proposal in the final round


During the first round you or your team pitch the concept and/or ideas for a group of experts. If you are selected for the second round, you will refine the concept into a concrete technically, economically and ecologically feasible proposal. In the final round, it is up to you to convince the jury! 

In order to be able to estimate that your concept canmake an estimation your concept offers a feasible solution, we need more information. For example:


  • What is your high-level action plan? How would you approach the realization/construction? What are the needed next steps and resources? What is the timing?
  • How do you see the solution working in practice in the nature reserve and throughout the year?
  • What is the impact on the nature reserve? Flora and fauna?
  • Is it scientifically supported?
  • What does your solution look like? Has it been built with existing elements and installations or do new parts need to be developed (schematics, sketches...)?
  • ...




The jury decides who has the most creative, promising and at the same time achievable proposal. The winner of this challenge will receive a prize of 10,000 euros. Port of Antwerp will then assist the winner in translating the idea into reality.


Important info


Description area


The Galgeschoor is an area of over 100 hectares and offers a home for many unique vegetations and bird species. It is therefore very important that the nature reserve is not disturbed by this challenge. In this mud flats and salt marshes area, 3 different vegetation zones are indicated that are applicable for this challenge.


Paved dike


  • Hardened and crushed stone substrate with loose remnants of humus layer
  • Very high concentration of plastics free on paved surfaces
  • Jump and storm tide washing-up


Humus layer above reed collar


  • Litter layer consisting of loose and stacked dead vegetations
  • Medium to high concentration of plastics deep into the humus layer.
  • Ashore by high and spring tides


Green vegetation zone above reed belt


  • Fast-growing green plants such as thistles, nettles, etc.
  • Moderate concentration of plastics between plants and into the superficial humus layer
  • Ashore due to high tide


For this challenge, the Galgenschoor-mudflat is indicated as reference point. Such vegetation zones with plastic contamination can also occur elsewhere in other mudflats and salt marshes along the banks of the Scheldt!


Description plastics


The plastics to be removed float around the denominator of microplastics and literally fall through the meshes of the net.


Which plastics are we talking about?

  • Plastics that have been degraded to small particles of 5 mm and smaller.
  • Industrial plastic pellets intended as raw material for many products.
  • Plastics that mainly float but also float and sink.
  • Plastics that you can still see with the naked eye.


Do you want to see and feel these plastics? We will gladly send you a starter pack with a sample of plastics directly from the Galgeschoor. Send an email to




The final winner will be announced on 19 December.


Competition sequence


  • December 2: Final submission date for final proposals.
  • December 19: Announcement of the winner by the jury


10 competition rules


  1. The solution should include no disturbance of the flora and fauna.
  2. The solid ground and vegetation remain untouched.
  3. 1 winner of the cash prize (€ 10,000).
  4. The Environmental Expert Team will have to make a positive assessment as to whether the environmental impact in the area will be disturbed too much.
  5. Technical Expert Team will have to positively assess the overall feasibility of the solution.
  6. The organisation always has the right not to hold anyone back.
  7. The organization is free to decide whether the won solution will be implemented effectively.
  8. The submitter is not entitled to any compensation for the creation of ideas and concepts.
  9. Intellectual property remains the property of the developer of the idea.
  10. All data submitted within the framework of the competition will be returned to the submitter and will no longer be in the possession of the organizer.


Good luck!