We are all aware of the global issues regarding plastics in the ocean, but what can we do about collecting the 5 trillion pieces of plastic that are currently filling our seas?
Dutch inventor Boyan Slat thinks he has the answer. Five years ago, at the age of 18 Boyan realised that the solution is found in the ocean’s own currents. Plastics gather in five places and circulate with the currents, allowing the mass to get larger without ever going away. These are called the ocean garbage patches and stretch across millions of square miles. Using boats and nets would cost millions of pounds and centuries to complete. Boyan’s solution is to use drifting nets that will lay on the surface moving with the currents and collecting the plastic as it goes. Once back on shore, the plastics will be recycled and used to make new products. Boyan believes that the ocean and waves will do a better job and hopes that in 5 years the reduction will be 50%.
So, how is it going? The initial launch of System 001 happened in September 2018 targeting the Great Pacific Ocean garbage patch (the largest of them all and discovered twenty years ago) – it was essentially a fact-finding mission. Boyan and his team of 80 researchers, scientists, crew and engineers wanted to see how the system would work in an ocean environment and how it would react to the plastic. They found that after four months System 001 could not keep hold of the plastic it had collected, and the plastic count did not remain high enough for a plastic extraction process – it needed to store the plastic for several weeks. The second issue they encountered was that parts of the floating structure failed.
However, they did have many successes. The system was correctly configured and retained its shape throughout the sea trial. System 001 also had the ability to orient in the wind, and the electronics and satellite connections were strong allowing valuable data to be collated.
The Ocean Clean Up team have now taken System 001 back to base to carry out research and development and are looking to re-launch as soon as they can.
With the plastics problem getting worse by the day, businesses are working to minimise their use of plastic. For example, Hilton hotels, Jumeirah hotels and McDonald's have all replaced their plastic straws with environmentally friendly alternatives. Football clubs are also getting on board: Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have banned all single-use plastic within their grounds. We at Kinetico are also trying to reduce our plastic use by no longer offering plastic bottles of water on our exhibition stands but encourage people to fill up their reusable bottles instead.
If you would like to make a change and reduce your plastic water bottle usage we are offering 10% discount on our Essential Drinking Water System and a free H2Go reusable bottle. If you are interested, click her http://bit.ly/2VJJBFz and enter code: PlasticFree when prompted during the checkout process.