July 23, 2010

Recycled Plastic Island: Can It Clean Up Plastic Pollution In Our Oceans?

We’ve heard a lot about plastic pollution in our oceans. Plastic constitutes approximately 90% of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.

From the Plastic Pollution Coalition:

Patches of plastic pollution cover millions of square miles of ocean in the North Pacific and in the North Atlantic.  Scientists expect to find similar accumulation areas in the remaining oceanic gyres. There is no known way to clean up the plastic pollution in the oceans: the plastic particles are very small and circulate throughout the entire water column. The amount of plastic pollution in the oceans is expanding at a catastrophic rate.

But what if there was a way to clean it up? Well, those clever folks from the Netherlands have an idea. WHIM architecture firm, based in the Netherlands, is conducting the research and design of a completely recycled island. The project was created to look at a way to turn the floating plastic into urban habitats.

Sure, we’ve made a couple boats from the plastic captured in the ocean, the most well-know being the JUNKraft — made up of 15,000 plastic bottles — and the Plastiki — made up of 12,500 plastic bottles. But an island?

While the notion of building an island is nothing new (ahem, Dubai), reusing a ton of the plastic that is polluting our oceans is rather appealing.

From RecycledIsland.com

Recycled island is a research project on the potential of realizing a habitable floating island in the Pacific Ocean made from all the plastic waste that is momentarily floating around in the ocean.

The proposal has three main aims; Cleaning our oceans from a gigantic amount of plastic waste; Creating new land; And constructing a sustainable habitat. Recycled island seeks the possibilities to recycle the plastic waste on the spot and to recycle it into a floating entity. The constructive and marine technical aspects take part in the project of creating a sea worthy island.

So what do you think, would you live on a massive recycled island? With the amount of plastic growing at a mind-blowing rate in our oceans, it’s about time we come up with an innovate and smart solution. Maybe it’s a recycled island. Hey, it’s an idea.

But even if we build this island, plastic pollution will keep piling up. So be aware, think about your consumption and make it so we don’t have to make a dozen recycled plastic islands in the middle of our ocean.

PHOTOS courtesy WHIM Architecture

Thanks to Grist for the tip!

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