Cool Inventions in Recycling Plastics
While a lot of people remain either indifferent or ignorant to pollution in whichever form, more and more people are coming alive to the fact that environmental rehabilitation is an overdue necessity. Those at the very forefront of this fight are doing a lot to salvage things, even though their efforts are still not enough as is. There are, however, those who are pulling most of the weight on behalf of all of us and have turned simple and brilliant ideas into workable strategies to fight pollution, at least in regards to cleaning up the ocean. These vast bodies of formerly clean and gleaming water have now become dumping grounds for an unfortunate amount of garbage, plastics to be exact.
Plastic is non-biodegradable, meaning that it will not go anywhere for a long time if just left alone. Marine life is of course severely threatened, either by getting entangled or mistaking it for food and ingesting. Oceanic Society reports that the insane levels of plastic production combined with poor waste management allow millions of metric tonnes of plastic to enter the ocean, per year. This is apparently enough to completely cover every coastline in the world. With such a huge problem to tackle comes even greater efforts to combat the same. Hope lies in recycling, and there now are very cool inventions coming up to assist in doing just that.
The Ocean Cleanup
A video by CNET on the Ocean Cleanup reveals the brilliance of the company in their attempts to combat ocean pollution. Their goal to reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean by 90% by 2040 though ambitious, is backed up by the technology they have in place and that which they plan to develop or acquire. They have a floating tube dubbed ‘System 001’ with a three-meter-long debris trap under it that goes into the water by the same depth. The device, located in the Great Pacific, then moves around in a curved shape, taking with it the plastic in its path. Considerations have been made to have the least effect on marine life, with the system itself being propelled by natural forces only, which are wind, waves, and current. The system is still in beta but works well. It has paved the way for redesign and scaling up to hasten the process because plastic accumulation is only increasing.
Recovered plastics being brought back from the ocean are set for recycling. The Ocean Cleanup has recycling partners, with the common desire and goal being that the waste recovered will be turned into durable products like tech components that will not find their way back into the ocean any time soon, if ever. Proceeds from the sales will then be funneled back into the clean-up process, which creates an ideal cycle that keeps their efforts in ocean rehabilitation up and running.
Arthur Huang, an emerging explorer with National Geographic, has built a solar-powered machine, the Trashpresso, that turns plastic wastes into small sized tiles that can then be used to build walls and floors. Pure genius this one. An article by Christina Nunez reveals how Huang believes that the two prototypes he has so far can be the future of recycling. Huang transports them to far-flung regions where it shreds and compresses plastics it comes across. His vision is a network of such recycling plants that will be used to create new products and has a company that is commendably devoted to building a circular economy. It is also worth mentioning that amongst the items built from the recycled plastics are all types of accessories, furniture, buildings, and even a small plane. A plane!
VolCat by IBM
Even Silicon Valley is involved in the plastic-recycling movement. Research at IBM led to the development of a non-traditional recycling method which produces newer, better-quality products for re-use. A catalyst is used to selectively pick out and process PET plastics inside their reactors. In Layman terms, the catalyst is a pair of scissors that cuts up the plastic extremely fast. Plans to scale up the process have seen them talk to partners in an attempt to coordinate a larger test. The process is capable of using the lowest-end, dirtiest plastics, and the catalyst used can be fully recycled, making the whole process cost-efficient and keep energy consumption low.
Such inventions give hope that the rise in plastic wastes can be reversed and could redirect where plastic waste is sent; from the oceans to such recycling centers. A company by the name Loop industries is partnering with brands to turn plastic from water bottles to new, clean packaging material through a chemical procedure. While strides in plastic recycling give glimpses of a plastic-free future, simple and more far-spread exercises like banning single-use plastics and practising recycling even in our homes will go a long way in making sure that we help these agents of change achieve their goals because after all, this is our one and only planet, our one and only home.
How are Galaxy Kayaks taking action?
We at Galaxy Kayaks believe in helping the environment and are currently doing so by being a part of the environmental organisation 1% For The Planet. Ideally, in the future, we would like to produce kayaks using recycled plastics. This is still in the early stages but we feel it can become a reality in the near future. We will update you all when we have substantial developments in this regard.