The Ocean Cleanup is developing world’s first feasible method to rid the oceans of plastic. The Ocean Cleanup’s goal is to extract, prevent, and intercept plastic pollution by initiating the largest cleanup in history.
The Ocean Cleanup Plan So Crazy It Just Might Work
The largest marine cleanup project in history is set to launch early next year. The goal: Get rid of half the plastic garbage currently in the oceans. It’s bold, it’s ambitious, and it’s popular with the media (although less so with scientists). But will it work?
Julie Dugdale, Outside Online, 7/21/16
Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat shocked the environmental community when he announced in a 2012 TEDx talk that he had invented a way for the oceans to rid themselves of plastic with minimal human intervention.
After all, we’re funneling a jaw-dropping 8 million tons of the stuff into the oceans each year, in addition to the more than five trillion pieces of plastic garbage already swirling in the waters. Could a then-17-year-old really have found a simple solution to this massive problem?
Many environmentalists didn’t think so, but Slat’s idea was nonetheless intriguing. He proposed building a stationary array with floating barriers that would filter and collect floating plastic using the ocean’s natural currents.
Trash Free Waters (TFW) is a program developed by EPA with the purpose to educate, raise awareness, and encourage trash reduction in oceans and coasts. The public participants in the program include state and municipal governments, NGOs and business.
Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance® unites industry, science and nonprofit leaders who share a common goal for a healthy ocean free of trash. The Alliance provides the only forum of its kind focused on identifying opportunities for cross-sector solutions that drive action and foster innovation. Central to the Alliance’s work is advancing new knowledge, understanding how materials enter the ocean, and identifying cost effective strategies to confront plastic pollution at the global scale.
Members seek to reduce and, where possible, reinvent products and services that damage ocean wildlife or ecosystems. Current Founding members of the Trash Free Seas Alliance® include:
Did you know you are contributing to marine pollution by washing your clothes? Every wash of synthetic fabrics or composed fabrics (like cotton/polyester) discharges plastic fibers less than a millimeter in length. Wastewater treatment plants let them through. Fibers found on shorelines match with material used in clothing; polyester, acrylic and nylon. The impact of plastic micro- and nanofibers on the (sea) ecosystem has to be reduced. MERMAIDS, co-financed by the Life+ 2013 programme of the European Union, is looking for solutions. On this site you learn about MERMAIDS and how industry and households can be part of the solution. http://life-mermaids.eu/en/
Every year, Europeans do around 36 billion loads of washing and most of them contain synthetic clothes, releasing millions of non-degradable fibres into the waste water. Most of these fibres slip undetected through water treatment plants and out to the sea.
Who are the major culprits? Acrylic, nylon and polyester. One polyester fleece jacket sheds almost a million fibres per wash. An acrylic scarf: 300,000 fibres. Nylon socks: 136,000 fibres. Eventually, fish mistake these fibres for plankton when they end up in the oceans and seas. Around 65% of the shrimp in the North Sea contain synthetic fibres. And, guess what? We are at the top of the food chain, so they end up in our plates.
With small changes in your washing habits, you can reduce the amount of fibres you shed:
- Fill up your washing machine to the max: washing a full load results in less friction between the clothes and, therefore, less fibres are released.
- Use washing liquid instead of powder: the ‘scrub’ function of the grains of the powder result in loosening the fibres of clothes more than with liquid.
- Use a fabric softener: some ingredients in fabric softeners reduce friction between fibres so the release decreases.
- Wash at a low temperature: when clothes are washed at a high temperature some fabrics are damaged, leading to the release of fibres.
- Avoid long washings: long periods of washing cause more friction between fabrics, which supposes more tearing of the fibres.
- Dry spin clothes at low revs: higher revolutions increase the friction between the clothes, resulting in higher chances of fibres loosening.
- Avoid buying synthetic clothes and look for wool, cotton, linen, silk, cashmere or other natural fabrics.
We face many complex challenges when it comes to a clean and healthy ocean, but one problem is simple to understand: Trash.
People know that trash in the water:
- compromises the health of humans, wildlife and the livelihoods that depend on a healthy ocean;
- threatens tourism and recreation, and the critical dollars they add to our local economies;
- complicates shipping and transportation by causing navigation hazards; and
- generates steep bills for retrieval and removal.
Unfortunately, what we see dirtying beaches and floating on the ocean’s surface is just the tip of the iceberg. Much more lies unseen beneath the surface and far away on the open water — but that doesn’t make it any less important.
Our study on the deadliest ocean trash.
Our 2015 report on a way forward to eliminate ocean plastic.
Download the data collected during the 2014 International Coastal Cleanup.
A new study provides first estimate of how much plastic flows into the ocean.
Volunteers collected more than 16 million pounds of trash during Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 International Coastal Cleanup. Here’s what they found.
A marine debris education partnership between Ocean Conservancy and the NOAA Marine Debris Program.