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Mon Apr 23, 2018, 07:32 AM

World's first ocean plastic-cleaning machine set to tackle Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Source: The Independent

Jane Dalton
19 mins ago

Scientists are preparing to launch the world's first machine to clean up the planet's largest mass of ocean plastic.

The system, originally dreamed up by a teenager, will be shipped out this summer to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California, and which contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic.

It will be the first ever attempt to tackle the patch since it was discovered in 1997.

The experts believe the machine should be able to collect half of the detritus in the patch – about 40,000 metric tons – within five years.

Read more: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/ocean-plastic-cleanup-machine-great-pacific-garbage-patch-launch-boyan-slat-a8317226.html

46 replies, 5035 views

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Reply World's first ocean plastic-cleaning machine set to tackle Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Original post)
sl8 Apr 2018 OP
bucolic_frolic Apr 2018 #1
BumRushDaShow Apr 2018 #2
FakeNoose Apr 2018 #16
BumRushDaShow Apr 2018 #20
lagomorph777 Apr 2018 #3
bucolic_frolic Apr 2018 #4
lagomorph777 Apr 2018 #6
Wounded Bear Apr 2018 #13
lagomorph777 Apr 2018 #22
Hortensis Apr 2018 #31
Maeve Apr 2018 #19
lagomorph777 Apr 2018 #21
Hortensis Apr 2018 #33
mahina Apr 2018 #45
hlthe2b Apr 2018 #9
bucolic_frolic Apr 2018 #24
lagomorph777 Apr 2018 #35
Kaleva Apr 2018 #38
hlthe2b Apr 2018 #41
Kaleva Apr 2018 #43
LanternWaste Apr 2018 #29
bucolic_frolic Apr 2018 #36
Jedi Guy Apr 2018 #46
BobTheSubgenius Apr 2018 #32
n2doc Apr 2018 #5
7962 Apr 2018 #12
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2018 #17
FSogol Apr 2018 #25
muriel_volestrangler Apr 2018 #40
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2018 #42
Capperdan Apr 2018 #23
kag Apr 2018 #28
LanternWaste Apr 2018 #30
HeartachesNhangovers Apr 2018 #37
notdarkyet Apr 2018 #7
tclambert Apr 2018 #15
FSogol Apr 2018 #26
notdarkyet Apr 2018 #39
IronLionZion Apr 2018 #8
Honeycombe8 Apr 2018 #10
malthaussen Apr 2018 #11
CanonRay Apr 2018 #14
ginnyinWI Apr 2018 #18
WhiteTara Apr 2018 #27
Calista241 Apr 2018 #34
Cold War Spook Apr 2018 #44

Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 07:45 AM

1. Are you cleaning it up faster than it's growing?

That's all that matters

Aside from what do you do with the junk

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:07 AM

2. According to the article

almost half of the debris collected so far consisted of discarded fishing nets (which is amazing but then probably more easily collected than smaller pieces of plastic-derived material). Perhaps finding an alternate material for nets, basically going back to natural fibers that were originally used in the past, might help on that front (although many of these nets in general were supposedly from illegal fishers too).

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:17 AM

16. Probably the plastic junk is tangled in the nets

...so they have no choice, they have to get the nets in order to get the junk cleaned up. But those nets are all made of nylon and non-biodegradable materials, so they're just as much junk as the empty plastic bottles and trash.

Before World War 2 the nets were from hemp or other bio-degradables, but not any more.


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Response to FakeNoose (Reply #16)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:28 AM

20. The way the article was written

the nets themselves were also considered debris (since they were apparently unclaimed and not in normal fishing areas), so I suppose snagging them gets other debris that got caught in them (although probably fish or mammals that should not have been entangled in them were found too).

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:16 AM

3. Recycle it.

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Response to lagomorph777 (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:21 AM

4. Is recycling working well?

I haven't seen any reports on it since the piles of stuff that was overwhelming the recycling system, and that was years and years ago

How much stuff can we manufacture with recycled plastic.

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:26 AM

6. Recycling is working; it's commercially viable now.

Once you cross that barrier, the fight's over.

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Response to lagomorph777 (Reply #6)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:06 AM

13. China apparently disagrees...

Last I heard, they're not taking any more.

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Response to Wounded Bear (Reply #13)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:36 AM

22. Shipping recyclables overseas kind of defeats the purpose anyway.

Burning tons of oil to save oil in plastics manufacture? Nutty.

This will drive recyclers to operate in more regions, making the process more efficient.

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Response to Wounded Bear (Reply #13)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:13 AM

31. Yup, and China just banned 32 more types of solid waste,

including scrapped cars and ships. That is to say China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) did.

It hurts the huge waste recycling industries that grew up there, of course, which once handled I believe I read something like half of some types of our planet's recyclable waste and scrap materials. But China has huge environmental problems of its own, which its central government is attacking on a scale only centralized authoritarian governments can do. MEP itself is going to become a larger Ministry of Ecological Environment. And all "foreign garbage" that can be replaced by their own domestic resources will be phased out.

They're serious, and they're forcing nations around the planet to seek more serious solutions also.

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Response to Maeve (Reply #19)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:33 AM

21. Thanks - that's very supportive of recycling!

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Response to Maeve (Reply #19)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:20 AM

33. GOOD article, thanks. I'd missed it.

Here in Georgia, we take our trash to a county landfill ourselves, and they're very strict about separating out recyclables. No nonsense myth about our recyclable trash ending up "in the trash." It becomes an income stream for our county.

I don't know how much that offsets waste disposal costs, or how much of this should justly be attributed to environmental responsibility, but a stern old "disposal nazi" watches everyone coming through, and I wouldn't care find out what'd happen if he saw the wrong stuff going the wrong place.

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Response to Maeve (Reply #19)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 02:11 PM

45. came to post this.

thank you!

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Response to lagomorph777 (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:40 AM

9. Lots of reports on how/why this is failing--starting from the refusal of many forms of plastic

in some locales (or where they accept it, recyclers merely collecting their tax-payer fees and turning around and sending the material to the landfill. Refusals can occur from something as ubiquitous as residential failure to RINSE out plastic containers...

Unfortunately, the big WE are not monitoring what is happening locally enough (not surprising, given that so many no longer get local news from radio or Sinclair tv, even if they DO watch, and surely aren't reading local newspapers), but I digress.

While I have spent the past two years looking at my own practices and making changes that I CAN, it is fully insufficient. I have a local milk service that uses GLASS and I pay a bit more for it, but then I look at all the other plastic I have to acquire and eventually discard. I lobbied my city to provide BIOdegradable doggy bags and am thrilled to see them widely distributed. But, with the exception of a few items one can purchase in bulk using recyclable glass containers (at $$$ whole foods and other health food stores), you are stuck buying the damned plastic.


I hope to hell this effort in the Pacific works. I am appalled at what we are leaving future generations to deal with.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:42 AM

24. They told us there would be trash to steam

and they would scrub emissions

That's dropped off the radar too.

You're right, lots of unaccountability, after all we don't want any regulations

I too have cut my purchase of plastic. Went from cooking oil to stick margarine and butter. Recycle plastic bags. Deli cheese. Powdered milk. That kind of thing.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:31 AM

35. I've switched to a mostly Vegan diet for health reasons

Noticed my trash output has dramatically reduced. Also my trash input (to my body). I've experienced an awakening of creativity; people are noticing. Oh and lost a ton of weight.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 11:27 AM

38. Biodegradeable bags really don't work

If the garbage is brought to a landfill to be buried and unable to degrade because of lack of oxygen. A better option would be compostable doggy bags and it brought to a composting site that accepts it.

"1. A high percentage of biodegradable plastic ends up in landfills, where nothing biodegrades.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires landfills to block out air, moisture and sunlight – the crucial elements for proper biodegradation.

That means that if your bag is like most “biodegradable” bags, it will just sit there, unable to decompose.

And while some companies tout having a biodegradable additive (a special film) on their biodegradable bags that lets them decompose completely, that claim has been challenged in court and still lacks consensus."

https://www.plasticplace.com/blog/5-surprising-secrets-of-biodegradable-plastic-bags

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #38)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 11:37 AM

41. at least if the bags are disposed in the available trash barrels in parks/trails in my community...

the bags (supposedly) are composted.

I agree with your points, but even if they (bio disposable bags) end up non-degraded in landfills, any errant bags won't forever remain in the environment to obstruct the crops of wild water fowl, or become tangled around the legs of wildlife, much as the old steel leg traps. Given communities' laudible efforts to restore open space and wetland areas abutting trails and parks, this is not an insignificant issue.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #41)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 01:08 PM

43. That's a good point

Bags accidentally, or on purpose, left out in the open will degrade.

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:06 AM

29. You should definitely let the research team and scientists know...

You should definitely let the research team and scientists know about that. Without your insight, they most likely left the glaringly obvious out of their premises and conclusions.

Since it is as you allege lacking any evidence to support it, "all that matters..."

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #29)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:45 AM

36. What a sarcastic and toxic comment

Thanks, but many a study and many a scientific project is driven by dreams, concept, engineering, design, and funding

more than practicality, and the landscape can shift by the time the project is completed.

Without your angle I would never have thought it all through

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #36)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 02:43 PM

46. Comments of that sort seem to be that person's MO.

I've only ever seen him/her post snarky sarcastic things like that. I guess that's how they get their jollies.

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:17 AM

32. That's it exactly.

The rate that plastics are dumped will probably never reach zero, but it needs to slow drastically before any real success can be achieved.

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:22 AM

5. 40 million wasted on this

40 million that could have been spent on beach and river cleanup efforts that might actually make a difference.

The North Pacific garage patch is twice the size of Texas. This is like a gnat on the backside of an elephant. Will make zero actual difference to the environment, except in wasted fossil fuels trying to place and maintain this thing.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:56 AM

12. But plastic is getting into the food supply. Much of that comes from the ocean.

 

it certainly NEEDS to be tackled. A lot of our food comes from the ocean, and as this crap breaks up it gets into the fish and other sea creatures we eat. There are articles out there that cover this. Heres one:
https://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/plastics.html

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Response to n2doc (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:18 AM

17. Wrong


Do you like plastic microparticles getting into the air your breath? The fish you eat? The seaweed that makes part of your ice cream? Birds eat the plastic and small particles in the fish and poop it on the land. Particles that collect and retain toxins and pollutants that then release in the bodies.

It is much more efficient to have a machine scoop up garbage floating concentrated in a patch on the ocean than having lots of people scour a bushy river edge.

Read the excerpt. It will be essentially done in ten years. Half in 5 years. That's tens and hundreds times more cleanup than could be done of rivers in that time for that money. No gnat.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #17)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:45 AM

25. and they might learn something and make improvements cutting the time down.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #17)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 11:36 AM

40. As the article says, this can't itself collect microparticles at all

You have to collect the large bits first. And those are more concentrated at "bushy river edges" than in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

If you read the Fast Company article that got the Independent to write this (they link to it), you find:

Slat, like others working on the problem of plastic waste, recognizes that collecting existing waste is only part of the challenge. The other, of course, is stopping the initial flow of trash into the ocean, whether it’s been dumped into the Yangtze River or fallen through a storm drain in Los Angeles. “Cleanups play an essential role in dealing with the symptoms of ocean plastics pollution, but they do not address the causes,” says Sander Defruyt, New Plastics Economy lead for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an organization that works on helping create closed-loop systems for plastic. “They cannot keep pace with the rising tide of plastic pollution. To tackle the plastic pollution crisis, there is an urgent need to rethink the way we make, use, and reuse plastics. This will require innovators, industry, and governments to collaborate and develop solutions that prevent plastic from becoming waste in the first place.” The organization has persuaded several major brands and retailers to commit to 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging, and promotes solutions like compostable, marine-degradable plastic made from food and agricultural waste by the startup Full Cycle Bioplastics.

https://www.fastcompany.com/40560810/the-revolutionary-giant-ocean-cleanup-machine-is-about-to-set-sail

The graph Slat is standing in front of, in the Independent article, shows it won't be done in 10 years either. The early gains are fast; it gets harder after that (collecting small bits without killing all the fish is hard).

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #40)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 11:48 AM

42. Can't disagree with what you say, but I stand by assertion that the $40meg is not a waste of money.n

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Response to n2doc (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:41 AM

23. We waste more on Trumps golf than that

I'm glad to hear of the cleanup effort

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Response to n2doc (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:05 AM

28. That's the spirit!

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Response to n2doc (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:07 AM

30. I also pretend that what I cannot understand is waste.

I also pretend that what I cannot understand is waste. We get to maintain the pretense of cleverness (to ourselves at least) whether reality warrants it or not.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:49 AM

37. Americans spend roughly $9 BILLION a year on

Halloween crap (a lot of which is probably made of plastic):

https://nrf.com/resources/consumer-research-and-data/holiday-spending/halloween-headquarters

This is money well spent just to remind people that all the stuff they buy doesn't just disappear when they throw it away.

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:29 AM

7. Need to clean up space garbage, too. We are messy people.l

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Response to notdarkyet (Reply #7)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:16 AM

15. We are. We used to be nomadic. Dirty up one spot, then move on.

Now that we have dirtied up the whole planet and near-Earth orbit, we need to move on to a different planet.

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Response to notdarkyet (Reply #7)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:46 AM

26. Space X just launched an experimental system to clean up space junk

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Response to FSogol (Reply #26)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 11:33 AM

39. Thanks.

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:29 AM

8. That's a great idea. If it does well they can put more machines like it.

All that plastic garbage is killing a lot of sea animals in the worst way. I hope some of that plastic can be recycled into something good, maybe pavement for roads. or building supplies.

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:51 AM

10. A teenager created this! I'm so in awe of the new generation!

It's shameful what people do to our environment. Shameful. We're doing it in space, now, too. People who have that trash should be required to foot the bill to clean it up. You mess it up, you clean it up.

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 08:55 AM

11. I remember when the kid came out with the idea.

It's been several years coming to fruition. But cool to see it finally in action.

-- Mal

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:09 AM

14. I was going to share this link on Facebook

but it started with a Roundup commercial, so no way.

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:20 AM

18. And plastic will kill the oceans, and then us.

It disrupts the food chain.

The thing we all can do right now is avoid one-use plastic items. You know, things you use once like a food container, then throw away.

We don't use water bottles but are going to start buying juice in paper cartons rather than plastic. Things like that would make a difference if everyone did it. Yeah I know it would take an act of Congress...

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 09:55 AM

27. I am so proud of the young scientist/engineer

for conceiving of the idea and now seeing it work. Yeah next generation.

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 10:28 AM

34. This is amazing, and deserving of celebration!

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Response to sl8 (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2018, 01:39 PM

44. Disposable diapers are very bad for the environment.

If you want to do something that is not difficult to do to help the environment use cloth diapers. My wife and I used cloth diapers and did not find it a chore.

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