ocean plastic is difficult to collect

  Only approximately 3% of plastic on our oceans are thought to float on or near the surface. The majority breaks down into particles that are a few millimetres long, fragmenting under waves or the sun. Plastic can also attach to other debris and sink, or even be consumed by marine animals.

  The Ocean Cleanup, the largest organisation dedicated to transforming ocean plastic into products, has virtually failed in its mission. It had ambitious and noble goals: to remove 90% of plastic waste from the ocean using U-shaped floating rigs. These rigs were powered by currents and winds, with the aim to collect plastic as it moved around. The organisation even had a significant $30 million finance backing.

  But its first machine fractured in late 2018 as it was scooping up waste, and the system was said to fail simply because it moved too slowly. The design, according to the CEO of engineering company Miniwiz, was inherently flawed. “Any net or basket can collect any type of debris in water,” he said. “Is it even remotely logical to build a football-stadium-size floating fishing net to collect three pieces of three-gram plastic almost 50 metres away from each other floating dynamically under the influence of currents in three dimensions?” “We all want a project like this to work,” he said. “But with a little research you realise this cannot be a plausible solution”. The solution, indeed, must involve stopping plastic from entering into the ocean in the first place.

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