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Recycling Plastic Waste

02/15/2015 4:49 PM

With the mention of "islands of plastic waste" circulating around the Pacific ocean, has anyone thought about a sea-going vessel that could collect the plastic waste for recycling purposes? It would seem there would be giant market ready to be exploited. I heard the amount of plastic waste is in the millions of tons.

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#1

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/15/2015 5:29 PM

Unfortunately it's not literally islands but vast areas of mostly fine plastic aggregates and debris which would take a lot of energy and work to screen out given the average volume of plastic to volumes of water involved.

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#2

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/15/2015 5:30 PM

This just isn't practical, for a number of reasons.

Such a ship would cost million$ to build and operate. The return on investment would never justify this.

Since there is no way to classify the small particles that make up the majority of waste, the only use for this flotsam, jetsam and trash would be to burn it or convert it to petroleum.

A single vessel would never be able to gather even 1% of the total mass that grows every day by tons.

This is just another example of how man is destroying our planet.

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#3

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/15/2015 6:55 PM

Very good question! No ship is feasible to be made or converted and have the necessary operations. If there was it would have an astronomical cost/# of plastic trash. Maritime law have been changed so that the penalties for this type of discharge get very expensive.

Pacific is the worst because of the loose or nonexistent laws concerning discharging plastics in or which reach the sea. The Atlantic is much cleaner. It is somewhat dependent upon the population of the coastal areas. The following has much to say about the situation: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/32589/20150213/8-million-tons-of-plastic-trash-ocean-every-year-the-worst-polluter-is.htm

8 Million Tons Of Plastic Trash Pollute Oceans Every Year: The Worst Polluter Is...

The study also identified the top countries responsible for the ocean-bound trash. Dumping 40,000 to 110,000 metric tons of plastic waste, the United States is ranked the 20th worst polluter.

Although the country has a highly developed garbage collection system, it still made it to the top 20 because of its large and dense coastal population. It is also a rich nation and thus is a big consumer of products.

China, the most populous country in the world, made it to the number one spot of the top countries disposing of plastic waste into oceans. The other top sources of the plastic waste in oceans include Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Egypt and Nigeria.

Sorry I don't have a answer to a successful way to curb this source of ocean pollution. In the mean time the best we can do is keep stopping the sources, pass tighter laws on the subject in numerous countries and cleaning it up to slow the yearly increases. Please, no physically forceful actions or demonstrations concerning this. Make it a relatively peaceful action to achieve our goal. Personally I would rather engineer the problem than have people killed for it.

Good Luck, Old Salt

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#4

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/15/2015 11:15 PM

Maybe it would be possible to genetically engineer a fish that feeds on just plastic....

Anyway there are efforts underway by several organizations pursuing different strategies to clean up the oceans.....but let's face it, this is a vast area...

..."always thought the Garbage Patch was a huge, waterborne landfill-sort of like a massive hair clog in a big drain. In reality, it's not so much an island of trash as a thin, soupy area of litter, mostly in the form of tiny flecks of plastic, studded here and there with old fishing gear and children's toys. (It's also not the only trashy area in the Pacific.) Even if you were to sail right through the Patch, the water itself probably wouldn't look too remarkable, unless you scooped some up and looked at it closely. So cleaning up this part of the ocean isn't as simple as you might have imagined."...

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2010/02/sea_trash.html

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 12:41 AM

Yea! Bluefish would only eat blue plastic. Black fish will only eat black plastics, especially those nasty big garbage bags. Striped bass would only eat striped plastic. Blowfish (Puffers) would only eat mylar balloons. Crappies would only eat crappy plastic. Swordfish would only eat plastic knives. Salmon will only eat orange colored plastics. Red Snapper will only eat red plastics. Cat fish will only eat cat food plastic bags. Eels would only eat long skinny plastics. Atlantic Flatfish would only eat sheets of plastic. Orange Roughy would only eat orange pieces of ruff plastic. Lemon sole would only eat the plastic pieces of sneaker soles. Red Fish would eat red plastics. Whiting would eat white plastics. Flying Fish would eat errant Frisbees. There are enough different fish in the oceans that "specialty fish" would be able to eliminate the ocean plastic problem. Now to find some trainers for them.

And the sharks will eat anything they want too!

Good Luck, Old Salt

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#5

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 12:34 AM

I would be very careful as scientist might discover that the trash holds a completely new not yet understood eco-system.

Destroying it might unbalance this system with unknown consequences.

Need to investigate, right!

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#7

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 7:13 AM

The costs of the cleanup should be divided among the countries that border the Ocean, with the relationship of the length of the coastline to allow a fair splitting of the costs involved.

Each country to also take loads of the plastic recovered to get rid of in a good, ecological way....

I bet someone could even make some money out of it, once its on land.....

Maybe several (old?) ships could be adapted......something should be done....

A ban on plastic bags in allshops is a first given of course......paper works fine!!

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#8

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 9:59 AM

This topic again? We've walked this road so many times there's a groove in the street from the footsteps.

We should just make a 'sticky' thread (If that can be done in this forum) explaining that the 'plastic trash' in the Pacific Gyre is (barring the lost fishing net that drifted in last week) mainly composed of near-microscopic particles.

You cannot see it from space. You cannot 'scoop up the plastic for recycling.' You cannot even see it while you're boating through it, you need to take water samples and take time analyzing them to determine if you're in it.

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#9

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 10:32 AM

The process for recycling plastic bottles that are turned in is more expensive than the money they make from any new product manufactured. Since there is a push for recycling, companies that do the recycling processes are subsided by the Government to keep them going.

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#10

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 11:06 AM

This about stuff that floats, what about stuff that sinks. The seafloor probably looks like the street and chain link fences adjacent to a fast food restaurant.

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 12:25 PM

It looked like that before plastics.

Do you know what Nature calls the bits of rubble, pottery shards, and sunken boats we leave on the ocean floor? Free Prefab Reef Material. Anything that a tiny floor-walking can use for shelter, it will, and since shelter is a (more-or-less) purely mechanical function, what the shelter is made of does not matter, as long as it can keep the good things on the happy side and the bad things on the scary side.

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#11

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 12:09 PM

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Mother Nature is much better than many people are willing to believe. We are nothing in this world. Only a temporary presence.

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#14
In reply to #11

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 12:43 PM

Exactly, all the 'Save the Planet' stuff is really 'save our own keisters.' there's little we can do, short of 'bunker busting' nukes that will hurt the Earth's ability to 'be a planet.'

However, the 'be a planet' job isn't that hard of a criteria to fill, you don't normally get fired from that unless you do something like break up into an asteroid belt(1), so what we really want is for the Earth to 'be a planet that can keep us alive,' and we're finding that our metaphorical lease isn't as iron-clad and gold-dipped as we thought it was, that there are some things we can do, or fail to do, that will have the landlord saying, "I don't care where you *DO* live, but you can't live here anymore."

There are only 8-9 planets(2) in the Solar System, only two are inhabited(3), and only one is capable of supporting our own keisters. We've gotta take care of this Shining Marble, this Pale Blue Dot, or we are all, rich and poor alike, completely FUBARed. The big arguments now are about the 'chores list,' who does what, and which tasks are 'vital housekeeping,' which are 'useless doorknob polishing,' and which are 'Destructive Vandalism.'

Trying to clean up the Gyres, that's Doorknob Polishing, the best way to help there is to simply not produce as much ocean-bound trash, by recycling or repurposing what we normally throw away(4).

Notes:

  1. Or be Pluto and have the Scientific Community decide they don't like you.
  2. Does Pluto count again or not?
  3. One inhabited solely by robots, the other inhabited by 'all biological life that we have been able to discover.'
  4. Within reason of course, no 'sandwiches made from recycled bits of old sandwiches" like they had in Futurama.
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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/17/2015 2:15 PM

I'm a fervent recycler. I strongly believe in reducing what we throw into landfills where it makes sense. High density population centers are perfect for recycling. Out in the country where the population density is much lower, with perhaps the exception of aluminum, burn the rest or toss in the dump. Transportation costs/resources far outweigh any recycling benefit.

I do believe we should make every reasonable effort to take care of our blue marble. It is rather remarkable. I like that we can now drive behind another automobile and not gag on the unburned hydrocarbons. I like that certain locales subject to inversion are not as smoggy anymore.

What gets my goat is when the activists want to apply one size fits all to everything. By golly, since we cleaned up car emissions, let's go after everyone's chainsaw too. Doesn't matter that you only burn about one pint of gasoline per year, you will 'pay'.

We have a similar problem here in the Chesapeake Bay. They are spending millions, perhaps billions to 'clean up the bay'. It is akin to a religion around here. I am by no means against reducing runoff, nutrient loading, etc in the bay's waters, but my concern is that to the folks 'saving the bay', they cannot spend enough of other people's money for an unquantified benefit. They talk about water clarity, turbidity, nitrogen/phosphorus levels, oxygen dead zones and all that stuff, but I have seen very little in the way of "measures of effectiveness". What I mean by that, is I have not seen any ROI on the money spent to save the bay.

I want to see that when they spend $25 million on stream restoration, storm water runoff mitigation, wetlands, aquatic grasses, etc. that there is a quantifiable benefit to the associated body of water and they can point to 'improved numbers'. If we are not measuring our effectiveness, how can we efficiently spend the people's money to get the best benefit? They do measure water quality, but I am afraid that they are unable to correlate money spent to water improvement.

That information quite possibly may be out there somewhere, but if it is not trumpeted from the hilltops, for all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist. But nobody questions it. Dare to question what the bay savers are doing with our money and you will be vilified like someone throwing babies down a well.

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/17/2015 3:06 PM

Something that might be good to quiet the 'bay savers,' at least for a bit, bight be a little scandal.

Are their whites white, are their brights bright? Let's see if they've been adding phosphates to their laundry detergent. Phosphates make soaps work SO much better and clean SO well, but they end up 'nutrient loading' the water. It's even hard to find plant food with phosphates in it, unless you're in a region where there is SEVERE phosphate deficiency in the soil. If some of the 'bay savers' are using phosphate-based 'laundry boosters,' it would be fun to call them out on it, just to watch the rest of the back turn. I'd be like dumping barrels (not buckets, BARRELS) of chum in shark-infested water, then reaching over the side with a harpoon and slicing open the skin on one shark. Not that it's recommend tricking sharks into eating other sharks, I abhor unnecessary cruelty to ANY living being (with the exception of lawyers), I was just making a vivid analogy.

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/18/2015 8:52 PM

I saw a definition for the word Pollution, that really resonated with me: The over concentration of something that results in Nature being unable to break it down into a benign, natural, or beneficial substance. The topic was sewage disposal, and this fellow was making the point that the absolute best ways of sewage reduction was either through long leach fields, in the top 18" of soil (the active bacteria zone), which resulted in water cleaner than city water, or thinly spread out over the ocean, which allows for adequate dispersion, bacterial reduction and UV breakdown, along with other benefits. These methods are only so good as long as the amount of material is not over concentrated as to Pollute the process (major sewage spills ). Many chemicals fall into this category. In some cases, as they say, a little goes a long way...

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#13

Re: Recycling Plastic Waste

02/16/2015 12:37 PM

If I remember correctly, there are certain bacteria that can reduce Petroleum discharges (I am thinking I read that during the BP spill)…If this is true, and the process is controllable, maybe there are certain strains of bacteria that could digest plastics? What could be a pollution control device could then be a WMD !!

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