According to Science magazine, (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768), eight million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year. The ocean now has at least 700 pieces of plastic for every person on earth. Is there any way we could ever clean up this mess?
A twenty-one-year-old man from the Netherlands has an idea. Realizing that plastic actually moves through ocean currents, he has devised a collection system based on floating barriers anchored to the sea bed. These barriers use the energy from the ocean currents to gather plastic waste. He has obtained over $2 million through crowdfunding and the Dutch government to build a prototype (pictured at left) that went into testing in the North Sea last month.
Will it work? Some are afraid too many fish will get trapped instead, although the barrier is only about four feet deep. And where is the best place to put it? Perhaps placing barriers at the mouths of rivers, before trash ever reaches the ocean, is a better solution. Baltimore has an inner harbor water wheel (“Mr. Trash Wheel) that works very well (pictured at right).
But this is definitely an idea worth trying. If the prototype works, the next step will be to scale it up and try it in the open ocean, hopefully by the end of next year. To read the details and see more pictures, go to http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/06/28/3792829/ocean-clean-up-project-unveiled/