Thursday, February 07, 2008

The world's larget rubbish dump

Reported in the Independent this morning, this is absolutely amazing!

"A 'plastic soup' of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said."

Known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" or "trash vortex", it is estimated to contain some 100 million tons of flotsam!

"The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting 'soup' stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan."

"Plastic is believed to constitute 90 per cent of all rubbish floating in the oceans. The UN Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic."

And some people still insist that rubbish thrown out to sea doesn't constitute a problem!

Addendum (Junkk Male) - Well, someone seems to think there's an angle.


Peter said...

I must confess that when I first saw this I rather dismissed it as yet another Planet Ban-it episode in their plastic bag campaign.

But reading on it is quite clearly about two significant, and major issues: the sheer volume of plastic debris (which obviously does not degrade), and how people choose to deal with it.

In my bigger picture ponderings, I rather doubt we can do very much about our addiction to plastic as a material. Which then brings us to disposal, which we can... given a wadge of things, ranging from incentives through facilities to ... penalties.

My other thought was to wonder if this stuff represents a resource, and if the vortex has, Dyson-like, been kind enough to focus it all in one place, can it be grabbed and reprocessed? Wouldn't it be neat if there were layers of like for like separated out?

OK, a pipe dream.

Gotta love those stats, too. Not 'around 50k', or 'over 45k'... on average. Bang on 46k per sqm.

Heaven help us if a eco-optimistic think tank finds a few places with less than that!

Dave said...

I, too, contemplated the concept of the trash vortex being a free source of potentially reusable plastic, with specially adapted trawlers fishing out thousands of tons for reprocessing.

But, you are correct, it's a pipe dream.