Marine Plastic Mining?

October 2, 2019 was an important date for the non-profit organization The Ocean Cleanup – and hopefully also for the Pacific Ocean, in the long run.

Founded in 2012 by the young Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup has been trying to develop a self-contained system that uses the natural forces of the ocean to passively catch and collect plastic debris. After years of research projects and prototypes, the first cleanup system was launched in September 2018. But after four months, it had to be taken back to shore for several improvements.

In the summer of 2019, the new model, called System 001/B was transported from Vancouver into the huge region called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. And in the beginning of October, The Ocean Cleanup could confirm that the system was now functioning. In addition to collecting plainly visible pieces of plastic debris and larger ghost nets, it also captures microplastics as small as 1mm – which comprise a large majority of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Recycling of this kind of plastic debris currently does not exist on a commercial basis. But on a research level, there are processes that can break down any plastic waste to a molecular level – and transform it back to new plastics. If these processes can become commercially viable, the cleaning up of the oceans might not only be good for the planet, but for the economy as well.

Gabriel Arthur
gabriel.arthur@norragency.com


More Stories

“At best, this should be seen as greenwashing”

While European brands began voluntarily phasing out PFAS in outdoor equipment years ago, US brands have been dragging their feet. Will incoming legislation finally level the playing field?

By Meg Carney

Made for Those Who Demand More

Since the invention of the Gore-Tex membrane almost 50 years ago, the brand stands for durable weather protection and comfort in functional outdoor clothing. During that time, the membrane technology has been constantly improved and reinvented.

By GORE

Back to the Earth

Often at the end of a textile product life cycle, we make the decision on how best to dispose the product. For a sustainable future, we could consider biodegradability. What is needed for successful biodegradation?

By Hohenstein

From Farm to Ocean-Friendly Fiber

Wool has long been lauded for its performance characteristics. But the natural fiber’s ability to fully biodegrade adds another impressive credential as microfiber pollution threatens marine ecosystems.

By IWTO

More News