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Engineering Materials

Good News & Bad News About Ocean Plastics

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Elizabeth M
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Re: Sobering stats
Elizabeth M   9/3/2014 4:37:56 AM
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I agree, Mr. Wirtel, even if things seem hopeless, nature shows an amazing ablity to adapt and change. I am reminded of this near where I live, as there was a massive fire about a year ago and already there is so much new growth and the land is coming back. Plastic is a bit of a different story--I don't know if sea animals will ever adapt to digesting it and, unfortunately, they often end up eating it by accident. But any efforts to reduce or eliminate it are certainly good ones.

Mr. Wirtel
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Re: Sobering stats
Mr. Wirtel   9/2/2014 9:41:05 PM
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  It is never too late to do something.The earth has an amazing ability to adapt and change to suit conditions. Man may not survive on "the New Earth", but the earth will still be the host to countless species just as it has through eons of alteration.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Ocean Plastics
Ann R. Thryft   8/5/2014 12:10:31 PM
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Gorski, there's a ton of recapturable energy in plastics for conversion into fuel, especially by pyrolysis, as we've discussed on this site several times (Check out some of the "Related posts" links at the end of this article.). The tech is generally called "plastics-to-oil".
Your suggestion is one of several for dealing with the problem, and has been proposed by several organizations, including The Clean Oceans Project,, which we mentioned most recently here
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=256809



Gorski
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Ocean Plastics
Gorski   8/5/2014 11:22:56 AM
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The article mentioned that plastics could be used for fuel. Is there enough energy in plasics ti have fleets of :garbage ships" go out in the oceans (gyres) to collect this debris and burn it? It would make an interesting study, if it has not been done.

 

Gorski-Prince

Gorski
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Ocean Plastics
Gorski   8/5/2014 11:22:56 AM
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The article mentioned that plastics could be used for fuel. Is there enough energy in plasics ti have fleets of :garbage ships" go out in the oceans (gyres) to collect this debris and burn it? It would make an interesting study, if it has not been done.

 

Gorski-Prince

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Plastic pollution
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2014 11:54:55 AM
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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.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: OCEAN PLASTICS
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2014 11:50:10 AM
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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: Sobering stats
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2014 11:42:06 AM
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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.

AnandY
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Gold
Plastic pollution
AnandY   7/30/2014 6:12:14 AM
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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.

William K.
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Re: Unintended secondary consequences
William K.   7/29/2014 9:24:50 PM
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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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