With its reusable bottles and countertop carbonation devices, SodaStream has made quite an impact in the world of refreshments and in effect saved vast amounts of plastic waste from making its way into the ocean. The Israeli company is now looking to play an active role in tackling this mounting problem, starting with a pilot project testing a new device to collect marine plastics from waters off the coast of Roatán, Honduras.
According to SodaStream, the project was inspired by a 2017 video produced by the BBC showing the Caribbean awash with plastic waste, with bottles, cutlery and polystyrene plates coating the surface for miles.
It is indeed ugly viewing, and the company was moved enough to start thinking about possible solutions. It has 150 SodaStream executives working on the project, along with environmental experts, reps from NGOs, local officials and hundreds of local Honduran school children.
Called Holy Turtle, the cleanup device is inspired by oil spill containment systems and is essentially a 1,000-ft-long (304-m) floating barrier. Towed by a pair of boats at either end, Holy Turtle is built to sweep through the waters across a four-day period and collect plastic waste, with specially placed holes that allow marine life to pass through.
There's little technical detail available beyond that, and SodaStream doesn't get too specific about its goals with Holy Turtle. It does say, however, that all the plastic it collects will be placed in an exhibition designed to raise awareness of the problem of plastic waste, and that the local school kids will be trained as environmental ambassadors for their community.
Holy Turtle appears, at least on the surface, rather similar to the device developed by the Ocean Cleanup Project, which is deploying its first systems in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch today. For its part, the Ocean Cleanup Project aims to eventually deploy 60 of its units, with the aim of cleaning up 50 percent of the Patch in just five years. And the more teams tackling the problem the better.
"More than 8 million tons of plastic goes into the ocean every year," says SodaStream CEO, Daniel Birnbaum. "This plastic doesn't disappear. It breaks up into tiny particles, floats in the ocean, endangers marine life and ends up in our food chain. We must all put our hands together to reduce the use of single-use plastic and commit ourselves to changing our habits and go reusable. It's in our hands."
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