This story was originally published by Oceans Deeply. For important news about plastic pollution, you can sign up to the Oceans Deeply email list.
When oil prices drop, as they have in recent years, recycling profits plummet. In most countries, it’s cheaper to simply make new petroleum-based plastic goods than turn the ones used once into the same items again. That’s led to a dismal recycling rate of just 9 percent worldwide, and an enormous buildup of plastic in the ocean, according to a recent study on global plastic production.
But as recycling rates drop and ocean pollution worsens, many innovators are taking marine debris, a notoriously unrecyclable material, and turning it into useful items. They’re turning all types of marine plastic trash, from old fishing gear to bits of broken-down hard plastic called microplastic, into new products.
“I think it is viable if it means that marine debris increases in value, so the efforts to clean up get a higher priority,” said Kristian Syberg, a plastics expert at Roskilde University in Denmark who has sailed through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, collecting samples of marine debris for analysis. “Such cleaning p... Read more