"The oceans, seemingly limitless, invoke in us a sense of awe and wonder ......... yet they are still the least explored." With these words, Sir David Attenborough introduces the extraordinary documentary series Blue Planet II. But suddenly, his tone of voice changes: "We have also come to recognize an uncomfortable fact, the health of our oceans is under threat."
More than eight million tonnes of plastic are estimated to enter the sea every year. There will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, and 99 per cent of the planet's seabirds will have eaten some. According to a University of Ghent study, the average person who eats seafood swallows up to 11,000 pieces of microplastic every year. So "plastic is very much on the menu".
This week we celebrate Earth Day by highlighting some of the most promising innovations trying to turn the tide on ocean plastics. We agree that leakage must stop way before plastic pollution reaches our waterways. But until that happens, the amazing changemakers battling it out on the rivers and seas are the need of the hour.
Peter & Venky
Plastic Waste Recovery in Oceans and Waterways
Here are some examples of innovations and solutions to the marine waste issue.
• A project that has received a lot of attention lately is The Ocean CleanUp – focusing on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Despite recent technical difficulties, the team is determined to continue on.
• Others, like ReCleanSea are working off smaller footprints.
• This exciting Ecuadorian startup is developing technologies to prevent macro and micro plastics entering into the phytoplankton growth areas in coastal zones.
Rivers, Coastlines and Harbors
Advocacy and Awareness
Greenbiz has launched “Accelerate at Circularity 19” - a fast pitch competition featuring entrepreneurs with innovative technologies, products and services advancing a circular economy.
The Ocean Plastics Innovation Challenge by National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures is accepting submissions till June 11. Teams will compete for aggregate prize purses of up to $500,000.
Here is a selection of recent news related to ocean plastics
• Can you spot ocean plastic from space? Scientists are working on technology to track plastic debris in the ocean from space.
• Blue Planet: The Nature Conservancy unveils a $1.6 billion bid to save the oceans
• An Ubuntoo member submitted this interesting read on The Challenges of Recycling After a Natural Disaster.
MUST SEE/ LISTEN TO
• Have a look at our newest Ubuntoo Labs 60sec film about The Flipflopi, a boat entirely made from discarded plastic and flipflops.
• Listen to our “Rise of the Ecopreneur” podcast with Tim Silverwood @ Take 3 for the Sea
• Surely you have already watched Blue Planet I and II. But if you haven’t, brace yourself for a wonderous dive.
"I can mention many moments that were unforgettable. But the single most revelatory three minutes was the first time I put on scuba gear and dived on a coral reef. It's just the unbelievable fact that you can move in three dimensions."
– Sir David Attenborough