Engineering Materials

Good News & Bad News About Ocean Plastics

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bobjengr   7/29/2014 5:41:39 PM
Ann, I have a good friend who just got back from a cruise in the Caribbean.  It was not his first but this time, but he noticed more than ever, debris floating on the ocean's surface.  He was amazed at the amount.  This prompted him to ask one member of the crew if debris was dumped at sea.  A resounding NO was given to that question. At least on this cruise line, the garbage is stored until the ship docks then hauled to an appropriate land fill.  I have no idea if this is common practice and all lines do it but I suspect not all.  I think it is time or time long overdue, that solutions be made to address this problem and it looks as though companies are slowly but surely moving in that direction.  I keep reading about significant drops in the number of fish available and what might be causing this problem.  Ocean debris was given as one big issue causing indirectly as one possibility.   

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We can get energy and fuels from that waste...
Trenth   7/29/2014 7:45:03 PM
We will always have "leakage", though it's tragic how we have abused the oceans.  All big ships should have trash collector scoops. The ships should have waste pyrolysis to fuels and energy system in them, they will save money, and dump fees.  They could probably sell the charcoal instead of paying to dump the wastes. Pyrolysis fuels are far cleaner than the bunker crude they use now. 

Sorry about the word wrap, it's a striaght cut and paste from open office of a .txt doc.

William K.
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Re: Unintended secondary consequences
William K.   7/29/2014 9:24:50 PM
OK, Ann, but I was not challenging the feasability, but rather wondering just how far an analysis of secondary results had gone. Just think about all of those ideas, over the years, that "seemed like a good idea at the time", but later were found to have some unfortunate secondary effects. Like disposable bottles and some Freons and lead-free solders, to name three areas. Even DDT, which solved a bunch of serious problems, was later found to have some less desirable long-term issues. 

Of course, secondary and tertiary results are part of my business, so I am more aware of them than many folks.

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Plastic pollution
AnandY   7/30/2014 6:12:14 AM
Plastic pollution is a serious threat which is continuously rising. I think we should have a large scale funding of water soluble plastics and other ecologically acceptable forms of plastics to ensure that the marine ecosystems aren?t affected. We know that the coral reefs recycle carbon dioxides and maintain the oceanic thermal average point to maintain the ocean conveyor belt. If this belt is damaged then we cannot prevent large scale destruction due to storms, floods, complete meltdown of polar icecaps and a new permanent winter over the northern hemisphere.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Sobering stats
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2014 11:42:06 AM
Pubudu, that's an especially good point about toothbrushes: I've been told by recycling experts that they are extremely difficult, basically impossible, to recycle because they contain several different types of plastic. Multiply that by the zillions of people using them, as you point out, and that's quite a problem.

Ann R. Thryft
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Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2014 11:50:10 AM
bobjengr, most of the plastics dumped on land, or blown away from landfills by wind, or tossed into waterways, or flushed down the drain eventually make it out to the ocean via the world's rivers and streams. This action by plastics is one of the most visible demonstrations of how the planet's circulation system works. And imagine all the stuff we can't see, not just the non-floating plastic, as Cabe points out, but smaller particles, chemicals in solution...etc.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Plastic pollution
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2014 11:54:55 AM
AnandY, unfortunately water-soluble plastics won't solve the ocean plastics problem for at least two reasons: one, as mentioned in my reply to bobjengr, whatever goes into rivers and creeks and streams eventually ends up in the ocean, since that's the way the planet's water systems work, and two, plastics are a chemical pollutant that we don't need in our drinking water, or water for crops, or for wildlife, or well, anywhere.

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