The Ocean Cleanup, an environmental care organization has embarked on cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is the biggest single waste collection in the oceans, making it look like a garbage island. The sheer size of this garbage collection makes efforts to clean it up quite draining.

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The Ocean Cleanup is using high-tech tools to remove pieces of plastic from the patch. While the good gesture is welcomed, questions are now emerging. Some critics argue of the uncertainty of their approach to reducing plastic pollution. This is considering only about 5% of plastic in the U.S. gets actually recycled.

Related: Exploring the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is made up of debris from different types of waste. It spans over 1.6 million square kilometres in the North Pacific Ocean. The majority of the waste that makes up the island is plastic. It is these plastic pieces that GPGP is targeting.

Microplastics, which are a major pollution concern across the world also make up the patch. According to a study published in the Journal Nature, microplastics make up to 8% of the patch by area. While only 8% of the area, microplastics have outsized the other pieces in number. The patch is estimated to have 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, of which 94% are microplastics.

According to The Ocean Cleanup, they recycle the majority of the waste it collects. Some of the plastic is used to create durable products. The rest of the waste is incinerated to generate electricity.

It is this claim that has raised eyebrows. For a long time, it has been known that thermally recycling plastic into electricity is harmful. It releases toxins into our waterways, air and soil. As a result, the waste harms humans more directly than if it was in the ocean

Even with such criticism, The Ocean Cleanup has continued with its activities. Some experts now say that the group should first consider the possible consequences of their actions.

“I think they’re coming from a good place of wanting to help the ocean, but by far the best way to help the ocean is to prevent plastic from getting in the ocean in the first place,” said Miriam Goldstein, director of ocean policy at the Center for American Progress.

Via The Cool Down

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