Surface Clean-up Tech Won’t Solve Plastic Problem: Stop the Spread at the Source
Written by: Josie Carter on August 20, 2020
Devices used for clean-up efforts have little gains
A new study featured in Science of the Total Environment shows a visual representation of the actual effectiveness of ocean clean-up devices on surface-level plastic collecting in oceans. Sadly, their findings confirm that the impact of certain clean-up devices is actually much more modest than expected. The actual solution, they suggest, is closing the gap at the initial pile-up at river bends and barriers, before the waste even reaches ocean waters.
“The long-term legacy of plastic mass production”: The Main Points
Their abstract suggests that mishandled waste is rapidly carried from rivers and city drainage to the ocean where it builds up. Most of the build-up happens on the ocean floor as well as the deep ocean. It’s well known that plastic harms multiple types of oceanic species which causes a quick degradation of significant ecosystems. Certain private activist groups and proposals attempting to pick-up plastics from the waterways have gained the proper amount of attention in the media, but their methods are now proving to be not so effective.
It’s important to note, this study primarily focused on floating, surface plastic due to the fact that waste collecting on the ocean floor is much more difficult to remove without huge amounts of effort.
So, what’s the solution?
Their conclusions suggest a strong river barrier at all waterways that lead directly to the ocean. Construction of mandatory barriers plus a mass reduction of plastic emissions will ultimately lead to a downfall in the collection of waste at the source. If the building process begins this year, this will become our main path to leading a sustainable way of living: by eliminating plastic waste from oceans, before it sinks.
If their suggestions aren’t taken seriously, they estimate the amount of plastic to reach oceans will multiply to more than 860,000 metric tons by 2029. This amount shockingly doubles the current track of plastic waste of nearly 400,000 tons by 2052.
Source: Published by The University of Exter at the Environmental News Network on August 5, 2020