How can we prevent rising sea level, danger to marine life, or the growing amount of plastic pollution in the water and significantly cut the environmental danger our oceans face?
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Chemists at the University of Cornell have developed a polymer that degrades quickly in sunlight, but that still maintains the strength of industrial-grade plastics. The aim is to provide a no-trace plastic that can reduce marine pollution and ghost fishing.
There are now said to be 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of the ocean – and the total is increasing by around 8 million pieces of plastic every day. Although plastics that biodegrade in water are already in use, a group of researchers at Japan’s Osaka University have developed an alternative type of plastic which is not only biodegradable in seawater but is also water-resistant under normal use.
A company in Ponte Vedra has developed an innovative and creative way to tackle the beach pollution problem. As the main form of footwear in Kenya is flipflops, the material is easy to come by and makes the art varied and interesting, compiled as it is of manifold colours, details and sizes from the flipflops. When the flip-flop debris is collected, it is shipped to the headquarters in Palm Valley, where it is cleaned, glued and made into large, colourful animal sculptures.
More people seem to be waking up to the problem of microplastics. When clothes made from synthetic fibres are washed, millions of tiny particles of plastic are released into drains, through water treatment plants and out into our rivers, lakes and oceans, where they cause great damage. A Slovenian startup, PlanetCare, has come up with a way to remove microplastics before they go down the drain. PlanetCare has developed a filter which can be attached to a washing machine, and which can catch around 90 per cent of the fibres shed from clothes. The cartridges need to be changed monthly, and the used ones can be sent back to PlanetCare, which cleans and returns them to customers. PlanetCare has plans to recycle the microplastics it collects in the cartridges, back into the backing material used in car upholstery.