Plastics continue to be the great pending issue of global waste management. The dependence of our economies on these materials is immense, but an important part of them ends up polluting our waters. The size of these marine dumps is growing exponentially, so for some the only option is to fish them with larger and larger nets.
25 million for System 03. A few weeks ago it was known that Joe Gebbia, founder of Airbnb, had donated 25 million dollars to The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, an NGO that works to develop technological solutions to rid the oceans of plastics. The money, the foundation announced, will go primarily toward developing its System 03, a large-scale plastic cleaning solution.
The donation will help the NGO take a step forward in the development of one of its key pillars: removing the plastic that accumulates in our oceans. (The other pillar being to prevent new plastics from reaching the open sea through rivers.)
What will this new system be like? The mechanism used by the NGO to capture plastic on a large scale is simple. For the collection of plastics on the high seas, the mill will use a net 2.5 kilometers long and four meters deep, tied to two tugboats. The plastics accumulate in a smaller network in the central segment, a network that can later be emptied on a ship. It is a plastic fishing system.
From 002 to 03. 03 will replace the pilot project, System 002 or Jenny, with which the company has been testing the removal of plastics on the well-known plastic island in the Pacific. The main difference between the first and the second mechanism is the scale: the 03 system will be three times larger than the previous generation.
The 002 system has been in use since the end of 2021 and although it has been technically idle for a few months, the NGO hopes to put it back into operation in the coming weeks. During its approximate year of activity on the great plastic island of the Pacific, the mechanism has collected 200 tons of plastic.
Some good news this Friday #theoceancleanup #plasticpollution
♬ original sound – The Ocean Cleanup
Fish what you are looking for. The main problem facing the mechanism may seem obvious, and that is to end up capturing marine life. The evolution of the mechanism has not yet been able to fully solve this problem, although it is claimed that progress has been made with each new implementation of the mechanism. According to their data, plastic makes up 99.8% of the catches of these mechanisms.
plastic islands. The mission of systems 002 and 03 is focused on the region of the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Plastic Island or Pacific Garbage Vortex. It is a loosely defined area located in the North Pacific.
Marine currents have meant that for decades a large part of the plastics that reach the ocean by one route or another end up at different points inside the current system known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.
The Pacific is also a body of water prone to accumulate plastics due to the fact that some of the countries that throw the most plastic into the sea are on its coast. Countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, China or Indonesia. The high population density of these countries, their lower capacity to manage waste and the fact that Western countries export our plastic waste here are among the main reasons for such a level of contamination.
And microplastics everywhere. Cleaning up islands of plastic might be a great idea, but there’s a problem: much of the plastic polluting our seas today is too small to be picked up with simple nets. Microplastics (and mesoplastics and nanoplastics) are one of the great ecological and health threats we face.
Cleaning large plastics will help combat the proliferation of new smaller waste, but not today we do not have an efficient mechanism to wait decades or centuries until it degrades.
It is not clean who cleans but… The one who doesn’t get dirty, or at least that’s what the saying goes. The problem is that at this point we cannot ignore what is already dirty. The situation is so great that it must be tackled on various fronts, and large-scale clean-up initiatives are essential.
The Dutch NGO is also developing systems to prevent plastics from draining from rivers into the sea, a measure also implemented in some riverbeds. However, we are still far from achieving net zero or lower plastic emissions, as evidenced by numerous recent reports on the matter.
In Xataka |
Image | Computer generated comparison of the two systems. The Ocean Cleanup.
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