New research by scientists from the University of Exeter in the UK proves that plastic cleaners that collect waste from the ocean’s surface will not solve the problem of pollution. The work was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Researchers studied the amount of plastic waste and how it accumulates in the environment and found that the cleaning rate of current filters was “very modest”.
However, river barriers can be more effective, and while they have no effect on plastic in the oceans, they can significantly reduce pollution when used in conjunction with surface cleaning technology.
The authors estimate that the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean will peak in 2029 and surface plastic will reach more than 860,000 metric tons, double the current projected 399,000 metric tons by 2052. Older studies have come to this data.
The important message of this article is that we cannot continue to pollute the oceans and hope that technology will fix it.
Jesse F. Abrams, Ph.D. from the Institute of Global Systems and the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Exeter
Given the complexity of disposal and the negative consequences of burying or incinerating plastic, the authors note that reducing landfills and increasing disposal rates are necessary to combat ocean pollution. Plastic is an extremely versatile material with a wide range of consumer and industrial uses, but we need to look for more sustainable alternatives and rethink how we make, consume and recycle plastics, the researchers noted.