Seven million tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year. Suspended in the water column of the North Pacific gyre, the swirling stew of plastics known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a problem so vast, many marine scientists and government agencies think cleaning it up is impossible.
While many of the cleanup inventions lack feasibility, outside-the-box ingenuity just might lead to a clean ocean.
The idea: Vacuum Cleaner
The Ocean Cleanup Array is a network of floating booms that would work with the ocean gyre’s currents to funnel plastics into a collection station. According to inventor Boyan Slat, his invention could remove more than 7 million tons of -plastic from the planet’s oceans. boyanslat.com
The idea: Plastic-Gobbling Bacteria
A team of students from University College London is engineering bacteria- eating plastic. They’re also bioengineering bacteria that would adhere floating micro-plastics together, making collection and removal possible. 2012.igem.org/Team:University_College_London
The idea: Robo-Cleaner
The car-size Marine Drone is an automated net that would troll the water column collecting plastics. An infra-sound system would keep marine life from being captured in the net. elieahovi.com/marine-drone
The idea: Floating Recycling Plant
A giant floating orb designed to collect and reprocess plastic debris, the Plastic Fish Tower would recycle plastic trash into fish-farm patches.
The idea: Recycle and Reuse
Method soap company is the first to collect and reuse ocean plastic, which is collected from Hawaii’s beaches by volunteers — old-fashioned beach cleanups can make a difference. methodhome.com/ocean-plastic