Keeping plastic rubbish out of the ocean

Keeping Plastic Rubbish Out of the Ocean

Keeping plastic rubbish out of the oceans is what we’re about here at Ocean Mimic! Whether that’s through our cleanups or by using recycled plastic fabric in our suits.

Every year 8 billion kilos of plastic rubbish is dumped into the sea. That works out as 1 full rubbish truck every minute – Just let that sink in. That is an absolutely huge amount! In fact by the year 2050 it is being estimated that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.

While it’s clear that plastic waste is a huge problem, it is also an opportunity for innovation and creative thinking. The mimic movement has so far managed to collect over 14688 kg of trash during our cleanups. However, we know that beach cleanups alone will not be enough to solve this issue!

Clever people from all over the world are not only developing tech to stop rubbish (especially plastics) and pollution from entering the oceans in the first place, but are using it to help clean up the damage that’s already been done on a large scale.

Here we’ll talk you through a few of the companies / initiatives we’ve been keeping an eye on that are doing some great work in this space…

 

Ones to watch!

The Great Bubble Barrier

The Great Bubble barrier is designed to intercept plastics in rivers and canals before it reaches the ocean. Essentially it’s a tube with holes in, placed along the bottom of the river that creates a bubble barrier stopping plastics from flowing past and directing it to the side to be collected. All the while allowing fish and ships to pass through the barrier unimpeded.

The simple, but innovative design has a range of benefits:

  • Stops plastic from entering the oceans
  • Doesn’t impact boat traffic or marine life negatively
  • In fact it improves oxygen levels within the water, which stimulates the ecosystem and stops the growth of toxic blue algae.
  • The bubbles also absorb sounds and waves, so fish and shores experience less harm from the ship traffic

Seabins

It all started with a simple question:

“If we can have rubbish bins on land then why not have them in the ocean?”

Seabins were created to have a focus on cleaning up marinas all over the world. From launching in 2015 they have gone from strength to strength. Winning awards and recently securing over $1.8m in funding to expand further and take the project forward.

The Seabin unit basically acts as a floating bin, skimming the surface of the water by pumping water into the device. The debris is filtered out and the water passes straight through.
The Seabin V5 can intercept:

  • Floating debris – macro / micro plastics and even microfibres (with an additional filter)
  • Organic material – leaves, seaweed, etc.
  • Petroleum based surface oils and detergent via oil absorbent pads

The Ocean Cleanup

This project has the aim of removing 90% of floating ocean plastic by 2040. To achieve this huge objective, The Ocean Cleanup have a 2 pronged strategy. Closing the source and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean (it won’t go away by itself!).

1. Clean up what’s already there – the ocean garbage patches

They are aiming to clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage patch in just 5 years. Their passive cleanup technology has been designed to do the hard job of concentrating the plastic first, before it can be effectively removed from the ocean.

The system consists of a long floater that sits at the surface of the water and skirt that hangs beneath it. The floater provides buoyancy to the entire system, while the skirt prevents debris from escaping underneath and leads it into the retention system. A cork line above the skirt prevents overtopping and keeps the skirt afloat.

They use a passive system that takes advantage of natural forces to navigate the garbage patches. The combination of these natural forces and a sea anchor create a drag, which makes the system move consistently slower than the plastic, allowing the plastic to be captured.

 

2. Closing the source – intercepting in rivers

Here they are aiming to tackle plastic in 1000 rivers in 5 years. Rivers are a huge source of ocean plastics, so they have developed The Interceptor to help stop plastic reaching the ocean from rivers.

The Interceptor deploys a barrier to guide the plastic in to the conveyor belt system, which then distributes the rubbish into large dumpsters. It can store up to 50m³ of trash before needing to be emptied. Meaning it’s capable of tackling even in the most polluted rivers all over the world and is a large scale solution.

 

As you can see these solutions are having a big impact and truly helping to protect our oceans from plastic rubbish. It makes us so happy to see some truly great minds working on this! However, this is a very complex problem that needs to be tackled on many different fronts for there to be real sustained change and improvement.

 

We also need…

As well as all these great initiatives dedicated to cleaning up after the plastic problem, we also need…New legislation and government support to protect our oceans and reduce our reliance on plastics in the first place. Increased focus and support for not only creating, but implementing wide scale, viable alternatives to plastics. Finally to all do our bit too – Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as you can :)

 

Sources:

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

World Economic Forum

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