Ann, I can't thank you enough for reporting on this. It is a subject very close to my heart and I have been working locally with friends here (particularly one clean-ocean, anti-plastic waste advocate friend) to try to clean up the beaches and the ocean. This is a good start but there is still a LONG WAY to go...and as single-use plastic is still being used and tossed away...and there is already so much plastic waste out there...it seems almost like an insurmountable problem. But efforts like this and design efforts to replace plastic with more organic materials are on the right track. I look forward to seeing more real progress from these efforts. And sometimes just educating people helps, because I really don't think people even know the impact plastic has had on the marine world. But they are learning.
Its very encouraging to see such social work has been started but it should remain that way for a longer period. Here in my country too you get certain voluntarily acts but they only last for couple of days.
a.saji, I'm sorry to hear that in your country efforts to improve the environment are so evanescent. The desire to solve the plastics pollution problem is pretty strong in Europe and the US, as well as the other countries involved in this study. Let's hope that yours gets involved, as well.
Elizabeth, does this stagnation zone lie on shipping lanes? If it does, then a very small tax incentive to maritime companies would be incentive for them to collect some of the trash as they pass through. If the trash-to-fuel technology is modular enough, then maritime companies could use this to fuel auxiliary generators and cut operating costs.
Thanks, Nadine: horrific is a good word for describing the Patch. BTW, that this is not the only one, since there are four other known gyres in the world's oceans, and it's not easy to detect a plastic patch using visual means alone. At least one more has been found, that one in the North Atlantic:
You're right Ann, I think there are about five known was...was just speaking to my anti-plastic advocate friend yesterday and she informed me about this. Really awful to think about, and anything that can be done to clean up this mess is not just welcome, it is sorely needed and long overdue!
I think the first time I really got the magnitude of the problem wasn't after finding out about the gyres. That was bad enough, but much of what's there isn't visible since it's collecting sub-surface. But what got me was seeing a scene in a movie that showed vast amounts of plastic waste collecting around the mouth of a river in India, before eventually getting washed out to sea. This, of course, is one of the sources of ocean waste mentioned in the report: runoff through streams. I instantly thought of how many such streams there are in the now mostly industrialized world and realized the amount of plastic collecting in all of them was staggering.
I'm glad to see so many people are aware of the garbage patch of plastic out there in the middle of the Pacific. You'd be surprised how many people have no clue the damage plastic is doing. It is truly horrific, yes, and I actually just saw quite another horrific video of birds that live on an island in the middle of the ocean miles from no other land and where no humans are that are dying with large amounts of plastic in their stomachs. It's unimaginable, but this is happening right now.
Thanks for the clarification. No, this plastic pollution is by no means limited to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch , which is located within the North Pacific Gyre, or to shipping lanes. Plastic is everywhere in the world's oceans and beaches. My local Santa Cruz beaches would look unbelievable--and scare away tourists--if it weren't for periodic volunteer cleanups. Here's a photo of marine debris on the Hawaiian coast:
Thanks, Elizabeth. I thought it was important to report that the often-maligned plastics industry is in fact trying to do something about the problem. One of the first things to do when approaching a huge complex problem is measure and classify--those are the two things done at the birth of a field of study, for example. Anyway, this is initial research, but it goes beyond that to specific action.
Yes, Ann, it's definitely good to see the plastics industry taking initiative here. Plastic has its positive aspects as well, and I guess when it was invented it was hard to foresee the problem it would cause. If anyone can put a dent in this problem, it's the people in the inudstry themselves. I definitely look forward to hearing more about specific actions that are taken in the future. Great reporting.
Elizabeth, thanks for the positive support. I agree, the industry itself is best positioned to deal with many of the problems caused by its products. It hasn't always done so, especially with cancer-causing chemistries, but when it comes to recycling efforts and ocean cleanup, I think it's doing pretty well.
Anyone who is interested in the problem of plastic waste in the ocean should read Moby Duck, by Donovan Hohn. It's a great read, and covers many different aspects of the problem in an entertaining way.
jonnk, I agree that the proof is in the pudding. But there's more than just a recipe here. As the article mentions, and the report details, several cleanup projects have already occurred and many others are in progress or planned.
By experimenting with the photovoltaic reaction in solar cells, researchers at MIT have made a breakthrough in energy efficiency that significantly pushes the boundaries of current commercial cells on the market.
In a world that's going green, industrial operations have a problem: Their processes involve materials that are potentially toxic, flammable, corrosive, or reactive. If improperly managed, this can precipitate dangerous health and environmental consequences.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is