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5 inventions to clean the oceans of plastic

The plastic cleaning of the seas is an inescapable imperative that the world still has not responded. On the contrary, waste does not stop pouring into its waters and the situation has long since ceased to be serious and has become simply dramatic.

If we do not act, the situation will eventually reach a point of no return. For now, plastic garbage parks occupy a good part of the planet. They spin uncontrollably, as it is trapped by the currents of the five major ocean gyres or eddies. Even if we stop, the plastics out there won’t decompose for a thousand years.

Doing so, on the other hand, does not solve the problem. Its degradation alters the marine ecosystem in a terrible way, as toxic chemicals are released whose effects are being studied with very ugly results. It is known, for example, that some plastics that degrade early have released BPA or styrene derivatives, and the consequences alter the functioning of various hormones and cause reproductive problems in fauna. In AgroCorrn, we show 5 inventions to clean the oceans of plastic.

You may also be interested in: How long does it take for plastic to degrade?
Index
  1. Unknown dimensions
  2. More trash than fish
  3. Attempts to fix the problem
  4. Ocean Cleanup Array
  5. An underwater skyscraper
  6. Bacteria that eat plastics
  7. The Ocean Cleanup
  8. Trash can

Unknown dimensions

“A new habitat has been created, a horrible situation unprecedented in the history of the planet,” says Mike Moore, a researcher at the Algalita Marine Research Institute, in California, United States. The expert emphasizes the so-called “plastic soups”, in which marine fauna is forced to live, in an environment that also carries risks of drowning and accidents that kill many animals.

Experiments carried out in the laboratory point to polistierno as especially dangerous , whose degradation is polluting the water with toxic products that come from huge amounts of drifting plastic products. Its dimensions are unknown, because below the surface, that is, in the funds, little explored, there can be an unimaginable quantity.

To get an idea, it is estimated that oceanic plastic garbage exceeds 5 billion pieces of plastic , whose weight will be around more than 150 million tons, according to figures from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Five Gyres Institute in Los Angeles.

More trash than fish

If we do nothing to remove this garbage and slow down our rate of dumping, the situation could definitely get out of hand. As a graphic example, also according to the same foundation, we dump a plastic garbage truck every minute , and if this continues in 2050 we will double the figure. By then, the oceans could have more plastic than fish, they conclude.

At the public health level, the situation also encompasses the problem of food safety. Not surprisingly, fish stocks suffer from this degradation of the ecosystem. But not only that, because the health of the fish is another issue that directly makes you tremble.

After all, it is not known if it is better not to have fish than to eat it contaminated. In fact, this excessive pollution is already coming back to us as if it were a diabolical boomerang. Experts warn us that “35 percent of the fish we catch have an average of one or two pieces of plastic in their stomachs,” says Mike Moore. In other words, the plastic that we throw into the sea ends up on our plate and, therefore, in our body. A nice panorama.

Attempts to fix the problem

So, sharpening your wits is a real urgency. There are currently no solutions to remove ocean debris, the main difficulty of which is in the small pieces of the ocean. “They are very small, very diverse and very thin. And it requires a global solution,” says Erik van Sebile, a scientist at Australia’s Center of Excellence for Climate Science.

Since it is an international problem, the solution must be too. Thus, suddenly, the solution that occurs to Sebille is to prevent. That is, to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and reducing its consumption, as well as the invention of non-polluting bioplastics.

And, of course, welcome are proposals like the ones we explain below. Still incipient solutions, many in the prototype phase or not even that. Be that as it may, they are attempts that point to the stars, and just because of the utopia they show off they well deserve our attention.

Ocean Cleanup Array

The invention of the young Dutchman Boyan Slat aspires to achieve great success with its revolutionary system, a great invention that has gone around the world thanks to its media force. It is an experimental device that acts as a large funnel that absorbs the garbage. Dubbed the Ocean Cleanup Array, it has been designed to absorb millions of tons of marine plastic and then recycle it on site.

This engineering student is convinced that he can recover plastic trash from the world’s oceans and will soon be able to prove it. It will do so in a pilot project that works on the Japanese coast, in the south of the country.

The next phase of the Ocean Cleanup project, named precisely like this, “The neXt Phase”, was inaugurated in a massive event featuring his alma mater, the very young and always surprising Boyan Slat.

There is no doubt that the project of this young engineer is anything but a fantasy. Its impetus and the support it has, both in terms of human, material and financial resources, forces us to take it seriously.

However, its objective represents a great challenge that can hardly be considered feasible. Many doubt its effectiveness, despite the fact that it is showing many things.

The next step, the much announced “The neXt Phase” with great fanfare, has left the experimental phase behind to begin the great adventure of cleaning the ocean on a large scale.

In this case, giving time to time is key to answering this question. In just a few years we will know if we are facing a failed attempt or a historical invention that will really be the definitive technical solution to the drama posed by oceanic plastic garbage.

As Slat himself often says, instead of waiting for people to stop throwing away garbage or for plastic to be replaced by other less polluting materials , you have to bet on providing answers. “We have to take advantage of the fact that humans are very good at inventing technical solutions to our problems. This is precisely what we are doing.” Why not, perhaps we are in front of one of the heroes of our time?

An underwater skyscraper

The next solution is from Sung Jin Cho, a South Korean who bets on a gigantic vacuum cleaner designed to collect garbage from the sea and recycle it. His futuristic invention is called “Seawer” and is shaped like an underwater skyscraper.

His idea is to place it right where those large concentrations of plastics are. Although his project is conceptual, for now, the idea has earned him the Honorable Mention in the prestigious eVolo Skyscraper Competition design competition.

Bacteria that eat plastics

Japanese scientists have discovered a bacterium (Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6) with a diet that comes to us not even painted to erase the plastic from the seas. The aforementioned shows a good appetite to eat the most common plastic (PET or polyethylene terephthalate), just the one used in disposable water bottles and in other products such as clothing, food trays or containers.

The finding has been published in Science, and as detailed it could help reduce waste, which in this type of plastic exceeds 50 million tons per year in the world each year. Before this discovery, it was known that a rare type of fungus could do the same.

The Ocean Cleanup

According to a recent study, the best way to clean ocean plastics is to place collectors close to shore . In this way, we avoid that possible absorption systems such as those mentioned can damage marine life.

The Ocean Cleanup project plans to implement this proposal from Dr. Erik van Sebille and Peter Sherman, an undergraduate physics student at Imperial College London. Their study, published in Environmental Research Letters, locates the best points to locate collectors.

Trash can

Scooping plastic out of the sea may seem like a joke, and in fact this curious trash can to clean the sea has not been invented to work on a large scale. However, within its modesty, the Seabin can be very effective, a floating garbage can that absorbs the debris that is on the surface of the sea. Once inside, they are filtered and a pump returns the clean water to the sea.

The creature’s parents, Andrew Turton and Peter Ceglinski, -surfers to say the least-, have invented this curious device within the Seabin Project, and the first pilot test will take place at the Real Club Náutico de Palma. Who knows, maybe cube by cube it will make a little big difference, although again prevention is still the best option. Perhaps also the only one within our reach.

If you want to read more articles similar to 5 inventions to clean the oceans of plastic , we recommend that you enter our Recycling and waste management category .

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Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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