MARINE LITTER
"World Cleanup Day" to tweak awareness / Ocean Cleanup vessel launched to collect waste in Pacific garbage patch
In the northern hemisphere at least, summer is nodding off to autumn and temperatures are cooling. But on 15 September 2018, hordes of people from 150 countries worldwide are expected to hit the beaches again – to clean them of litter left by the summer crowds or washed up from distant landfills. “World Cleanup Day” (www.worldcleanupday.org), which will start in Fiji in the South Pacific at dawn, then roll with the sun across the planet to finish up in Hawaii, is intended to send another signal that the volumes of plastics and other durable waste clogging the oceans must not be allowed to swell further.

The idea for the clean-up action is being promoted by the organisation Let’s do it! World (Tallinn / Estonia; www.letsdoitworld.org), which is officially “hosting” the event in 2018 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the republic’s founding. The establishment of a waste removal day began in the Scandinavian nation in 2008, when 50,000 people reportedly cleaned up the entire country in only five hours. The concept has since been gaining traction – Indonesia, one of the major plastic polluters worldwide, recently mobilised more than 20,000 citizens to clean up plastic trash across the country – see Plasteurope.com of 11.09.2018. However, whether this year’s globally expected “tens of millions” of volunteers will clear the beaches of all waste “in a single day,” as the organisers suggest, seems doubtful, especially in the US, where at press time the major hurricane "Florence" is due to strike the east coast – see Plasteurope.com of 12.09.2018.
Ocean Cleanup successfully launched
In the Pacific Ocean on 8 September 2018, the nearly 600-metre-long plastics waste cleaning array built by Ocean Cleanup (Delft / The Netherlands; www.theoceancleanup.com), the brainchild of young Dutchman Boyan Slat, was launched for its first “real world” test – see Plasteurope.com of 27.08.2018. After a five-year planning and testing phase, the marine vessel, which itself is made of UHMW-PE, was towed 1,536 km from San Francisco, California / USA to the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (GPGP) between California and Hawaii to begin its work. Up to 2020, the first vessel is planned to be joined later by 60 other floating arrays, with the goal of cleaning up 50% of the mainly plastics waste in the gyre within five years.

Plastic pipes for the floating array were manufactured in Austria (Photo: Agru Kunststofftechnik)
Austrian plastic pipe manufacturer Agru Kunststofftechnik (Bad Hall; www.agru.at) supplied the pressure-resistant pipes made of PE 100-RC as well as sheet for the impermeable “skirt” that hangs three metres below the device’s floating buoys. As might be expected, the Ocean Cleanup project has been greeted over the past five years with both praise and criticism – the latter most recently focusing on the clean-up vehicle itself being made of plastic.

“Part of the issue is that not all plastic is buoyant. A lot of it sinks immediately – and thus won't be captured by this floating boom,” Eben Schwartz, marine debris programme manager for the California Coastal Commission, told US media. Touching on the recent discussion of microplastics in the world’s oceans, oceanographer Kara Law of the US Sea Education Association questioned what would happen if, for example, the boom breaks in a storm and sheds nano-size particles.
14.09.2018 Plasteurope.com [240642-0]
Published on 14.09.2018
Marine Litter: Ocean Cleanup startet mit Agru-RohrenGerman version of this article...

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