According tomedia reports, how to clean up the ocean’s large amount of plastic pollution is a puzzling problem, and need a series of innovative ways to solve. A new study casts doubt on one of the more interesting solutions to the floating garbage collection barrier, finding that the devices, even if they run until the next century, are unlikely to have an impact on the whole problem.
The new study, carried out by british and German scientists, focuses only on floating plastics. How much plastic waste is left under the sea is a huge unknown, and plastic debris is often broken down into small pieces called microplastics, making it almost impossible to track, let alone locate and recycle.
The team developed a model that estimated the total mass of current and future floating plastics based on the amount of floating plastic washed into the ocean through river systems and poorly managed landfills. According to its analysis, by 2052, the total amount of 399,000 tons will now double to more than 860,000 tons. Next, the scientists looked at the impact of waste collection devices, such as those developed and operated by marine clean-up projects. These floating obstacles are designed to be located in the Great Pacific garbage belt, passively collecting plastic waste from the surface of the sea and then being towed back to shore.
According to the team’s modeling, if 200 such floating barriers were deployed for 130 years, they would reduce the amount of floating plastic debris by 44,900 tons, or about 5 percent of the total. This calculation takes into account the length of each of these devices at 600 meters (2,000 feet) and the average flow rate at which plastic debris is brought into the barrier.
“The important thing about this paper is that we can’t pollute the oceans all the time and hope that technology will clean up the mess,” said study author Dr Jesse F. Abrams of the University of Exeter. “Even if we can collect all the plastic in the ocean — we can’t — it’s really hard to recycle, especially when plastic debris has been floating for a long time and has been degraded or biodirt. Other major solutions are burial or incineration — but burial can contaminate the ground, causing additional carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. “
Many scientists are also skeptical of the feasibility of using large floating fences to collect floating plastic, arguing that its impact is negligible, especially given the large amounts of garbage being washed into the ocean every day. The Marine Clean son-in-the-poor group itself acknowledges that this is only part of the solution, but insists that it needs to clean up the accumulated waste in the ocean anyway.
The organization also takes steps to limit plastic waste entering the oceans through the world’s river system through its own research and “Interceptor” system. The “Interceptor” system can be installed in a waterway, bringing the waste closer to the source. Most of the plastic waste in the ocean enters the ocean through these channels. The authors of the new study say that installing such barriers in major polluting areas could prevent “most” of the pollutants expected to wash into the ocean in the coming decades.
However, since global shipping relies on major watercourses to transport goods, it is unlikely that such obstacles will be installed to a sufficient lying range. Researchers point to the need to develop and use more environmentally friendly materials instead of plastics and to change the behavior surrounding plastic consumption, which is an important part of the long-term solution.
“Plastics are a very versatile material that has a wide range of applications in the consumer and industrial sectors, but we need to find more sustainable alternatives and rethink the way we produce, consume and process plastics,” said study author Professor Agostino Merico of the Lebniz Center for Tropical Marine Research.
The study was published in the journal Science of The Total Environment.