The Grumpy Old Man

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....Ocean plastics cleanup, a viable solution?....

...A look at a possible significant tool in the great platics ocean clean up....

After I had written two particular grumps (eco-12, "plastics, an environmental disaster" and eco-12-1, "plastics a possible solution") I found myself terribly depressed as, during my investigation it became apparent that the problem was significant orders of magnitude worse than I had ever imagined. What I found even more depressing was, although some people are dickering at the edges, it was clear the solutions being discussed, although workable sometime in the future, would do little or nothing for the appalling situation that is out there in the oceans now. It was also clear that, although described as "5 garbage dumps" (one each in the North and South Pacific and Atlantic and one in the Indian oceans), the rubbish would be fog like, a loose heterogeneous, constantly moving soup, dispersed over a large area and so could not be just "vacuumed up" with the likes of ordinary fishing nets. I was concerned that even if such an initiative could be organised, who would pay for the boats and which country would be responsible for them as they would be operating as a non-profit operation in international waters. In short, who would have control and jurisdiction over such activity? I certainly couldn't see the plastics manufacturers doing anything, with all seen profits already being made them got far too big a vested interest. At the end of the day it all comes down to money, as it does with a number of other things. To read more about this follow the link to business 8 by clicking here.....read more......

Quite by chance, or maybe "synchronicity", I realised that Sky Television was a major contributor to an "ocean cleanup" campaign. Concurrent with this, I came across a major article in The Telegraph Magazine about a young inventor/entrepreneur in Holland who was not only progressing a potential solution, but was close to an "in anger trial"! Boyan Slat had the beginnings of his plan when he was 16. (At age, it is much easier to follow extreme lateral thinking than be bound by the shackles and preconceived 'wisdom' of conventional science, engineering and thought restricting the ideas of GrumpyOldMen)

Boyan, now aged 23, almost in the true arrogance of youth, totally ignored conventional science, engineering and thought, left university after 6 months and started his own company called "The Ocean Cleanup". He most passionately wanted to progress an idea he had used for a high school science competition. This used a long floating barrier to catch bits of passing plastic. His company now employs a team of 65 staff and is funded by a combination of crowdfunding, appeals to business and sponsorship.

You can see Boyan talking and read a number of reports if you Google "TEDx cleaning ocean".

Reports suggest that as early as next year "Ocean Cleanup" will have 60 odd mile long barriers in the sea, particularly in the worst area (known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch"), collecting rubbish with the barriers themselves being cleaned every three months or so. It is believed these barriers will collect anything down to 1 cm, (yet still allowing the ocean life to pass unhindered underneath) yes not perfect but it will represent a damn good start. The recovered plastic will be taken back to land for recycling, being sold to fund The Company's continued activities.

Grumpy accepts that this, should it work, will be a huge step forward, but does not absolve us from the responsibility of reducing the amount of this rubbish going into the oceans.

We all have our part to play in this protection of the heart and lungs of this gorgeous, delicate planet on which we live. We must redouble, again and again, our efforts to put right the damage that we have already instigated.

Do we really want to be known as "the generation that killed the planet". We all have a part to play and we can start by refusing, as often as possible, the purchase of anything that comes in single use plastic.