Too bad none of these folks have ever heard about the bacteria that eat these tiny bits of plastic. That's why they can't find them. Same ones that "eat" oil spills.
Interesting that they never identify any actual problems caused by microscopic bits of plastic or microbeads, they just insinuate that they're toxic by mentioning CFCs and DDT; classic use of guilt by association, along with "we know little about their safety for humans and especially the marine environment" which is supposed to make us worry about a problem because it is unknown. What it really tells us is that they haven't taken the time to identify if any of those microscopic bits of plastic and microbeads are actually harmful, and rather than put effort into doing boring scientific analysis to discover if there is a problem, they just assume that it's a problem and propose a number of unrealistic solutions. There is no mention of, as toddzrx pointed out, plastic-eating microbes like Ideonella sakaiensis, nor is there mention of the fact that dumping of garbage of any kind, let alone plastics, has been banned in the U.S. and Europe for several decades, nor were enlightened by the fact that almost all the waste is from poor countries in southeast Asia and China. Also, interestingly, in all the pictures of Henderson Island, what we see is predominantly fishing floats and fish nets, not any of the consumer plastic that is maligned in the article. So it appears that even if Americans and Europeans changed "our behavior, our consumption patterns" it wouldn't do anything to clean up the plastic in the oceans.
The solution isn't manufacturing less plastic. The solution is being responsible with the disposal of plastics. The parts of the world who responsibly dispose of plastics shouldn't be punished because other parts of the world aren't responsible.
All plastic can either be recycled or used as an energy source, after all it is made from natural gas, PE based plastics are an example; and oil, PP based plastics are an example.
Also plastic was developed because it was a more cost efficient replacement for something else, which, obviously, was more expensive and probably less efficient.
Brian M
As toddzrx and aksdad point out this seems to be a very unscientific approach, little in the way of real facts or in lateral think in dealing with the problem such as natural biological methods.
However irrespective of any dangers, the idea of uncontrolled plastic waste entering into the oceans is not a good thing! Perhaps view it like global warming, it doesn't really matter whether you believe its real or not, the things to combat it are sensible to do anyway - such as renewable energy!
There are several things that could be done to help. Use biodegradable plastics where ever possible. Make people bring their own reusable shopping bags to the store. Increase the number of trash pickup locations. Make people on welfare or any kind of public aid actually go out and pick up along the roads and around town. If people had to take responsibility for the cleanup, it would go a long way to solving the problem.
Our county won't let us recycle bags and wrappings. They claim they clog the machine. This leaves a huge amount of plastic that could be recycled going to the landfill.
In this day and age we should all know better, business, consumer and government and probably do. However, lets face it, the human population of this world are pigs and are only interested in profit and self ease. Why are we using anything that is not 100% recycle-able? When going to a store today, everything is wrapped in plastic and sometimes in multiple layers of plastic packaging which in many instances can not be recycled. When ever possible I try to avoid plastic because I don't trust the experts who say it's not harmful, "meets minimum standard guidelines for health and safety". When it comes to health it should be no danger at all.
As a society we need to stop pissing upstream from where we take our drinking water no matter how cheap or easy that may be.
One major solution to this is to "somehow" teach those who think the world is their trashcan to stop being pigs. What happened to public service messages about not throwing trash into the environment? Apparently, there are many people that don't understand that the world is not a big garbage can that will absorb whatever they want to toss out their car, boat, ash tray, house, etc. Maybe they can be embarrassed into doing the right thing?
There's a reason to characterize Boyan Slat as "university drop-out" plus run a dopey looking photo. Is it: smart yet uneducated? Environmentally caring & dreamy? Not-well-thought-out cleanup scheme?
Knut Scott Lindsley
- Regardless of how we address reducing the plastic in the ocean and already en route to the ocean, we MUST open the market to competition.
Like Hemp.
I imagine a Hemp vs Plastic battle like the iphone vs Android one.