My war on plastics began when I first heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Then I found out there are several of these gyres, and I realized that this was a cumulation of every plastic bottle and bag we each, as individuals, use and throw away. If anybody is still in any doubt as to what happens with all that waste, well, let's just say there aren't any garden gnomes who come out at night and clean up after us. A good portion of our garbage ends up in the oceans, contaminating the water, food chain and thereby, us. Read an earlier rant about why limiting the amount of (unnecessary) plastics is so so necessary, here https://openminds.swissre.com/stories/122/.
But while limiting future use is key (via education, packaging legislation..), what about all the plastic that is already there?
Until earlier this year, the consensus was that we could not clean it. Certainly not without investing millions of dollars with no return (other than the enormous benefit of trying to avoid some of the contamination to the food chain that ensues, that is). So we were stuck, powerlessly watching as these gyres grew day by day.
Enter innovation and Gen Y awesomeness: Earlier this year a 19-year-old inventor called Boyan Slat came up with a way to remove nearly 20 billion tons of plastic waste using what he calls the ocean cleanup array. It is made from a massive series of floating booms and processing platforms that gradually suck in the floating plastic like a giant funnel. Better still, it is powered by solar energy and ocean currents themselves, letting them bring the garbage to it rather than trawling for it. And amazingly, he says he could do so in just 5 years time! But the best bit? He claims it would be profitable! According to Boyan, all the recycling, estimated at USD 500 million per year, is more than it would cost to develop the technology and execute the plan.
Ummm, where do I sign? Oh and if venture capital isn't pouring in, let's fund it with our own money. I'm in!
Check this amazing kid out in the TED Talk he gave in Delft earlier this year: http://vr-zone.com/articles/19-year-old-inventor-finds-way-to-clean-up-the-worlds-oceans-in-under-5-years-time/19381.html
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Pollution, Sustainable energy: Solar, Other