One of the most threatening happenings of the day must be natural water pollution. From rivers to lakes, seas, and oceans, garbage is found in more than excess.
Certainly, this caused a number of serious problems worldwide, including loss of precious wildlife, unbearable ocean pollution, and plastic threats. As a solution to the problem, many companies and charities have gave their best efforts to launch ocean saving missions.
However, before we get there, here are some staggering facts on plastic waste:
- Annually, we produce over 300 million tons of plastic.
- 50% of this plastic is for single-use only. Plastic is so resistant to decay, it can outlive us all.
- Annually, we throw around 8 million tons of plastic in the ocean.
- Around 33% of all marine species have been found with plastic in the stomach.
- Around 40% of plastic is intended for packaging.
- People use around 500 billion plastic bags annually. This equals to a million of bags sold every minute.
- Last year, people produced more plastic than in the past century.
Things Can Still Change!
As per The Ocean Cleanup, there is an area in the ocean which is the most infested by plastic. The area is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and it is twice the size of Texas, or 1.6 million square km, to put it in numbers.
The patch currently holds 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing around 80,000 tons. Imagine this as the total weight of 500 Jumbo Jets. I know, right?
And even the amount of plastic cannot be properly measures, with experts saying it can reach up to 3.6 trillion pieces.
The garbage got stuck in this area thanks to vortexes, caused by clashing of different ocean currents. The first evidence of this patch came in the mid-80s, with its location being between California and Hawaii.
But, not all is lost. Thanks to The Ocean Cleanup, the ocean is expected to be alleviated of plastic waste soon. This company will use advanced technology to extract the plastic products in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, through a floating boom system from San Francisco Bay.
Currently, the company is certain they can remove around 50% of the trash in the Pacific and repeat the process every 5 years thereafter.
The company was developed by 18-year-old Boyan Slat, back in 2013. His idea was to make use of progressive technology to eliminate all plastic trash from the oceans. Their floating blooms will serve to trap up to 150,000 pounds of plastic annually.
Last October, the company made first efforts to capture trash in the patch, sending out floating boom systems around 1,400 miles out to the area. The system is designed in such way to always move in a ‘U’ trace, thus going well with the currents and trapping trash more easily.
All booms have around 10 nets underneath, helping them catch the smaller pieces of plastic from the patch. As soon as the boom is at its capacity, a fleet arrives and transports the boom to dry land, where the plastic is to be processed and recycled.
The company also admits that along with trash, the smaller nets could catch fish, but leave room for the fish to swim underneath as well.
Ambitious and determined, the company is still in its initial phase, but their mission is strong. They state the booms are breakable but can be repaired as well.
It didn’t take long for word to spread on the company pulling back from the project. However, the founder clearly dismisses these claims, calling them rubbish.
Open to the public and with a clear vision in mind, the company is active on their blog, where they report on all their progress. This got many tech investors interested in helping the company beat this mankind-threatening problem.
So far, some of the investors who helped out were Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, and Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce.com.
As for the plastic collected, the company will recycle it in phones, chairs, sunglasses, and some car parts.
Want to Join in for the Ride?
If you want to help out in cleaning up the ocean from plastic, you can! Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Limit your single-use plastic use
- Recycle all sorts of plastic
- Join a local beach cleanup project
- Vote for plastic use bans
- Don’t use products containing microbeads, found in soaps, scrubs, toothpaste, and similar products.
- Keep the awareness high, especially within your family and friends circle.
- Clean up after yourself, especially if using plastic.
We can do it!