It's World Environment Day around the corner - can you guess what the theme is this year? Yep - it's plastic again! Science shows we need to hear the same message 7 times before it goes in - so we’re talking plastic AGAIN - this time plastic AND tech 🤓💻🗑️. This issue is not going away, so read on and get engaged.
We covered just some of the things you could do to tackle your own plastic consumption in our recent Earth Day post- So on World Environment Day and for World Ocean's Day just around the corner - we look at some innovative tech solutions to tackling the plastic waste issue.
The UN have teamed up with data science company - Litterati an app to photograph, map and identify the brands in the litter. Litter is geo-tagged and "this data will be used to work with companies and organizations to find more sustainable solutions." Explore the map that is updated hourly: https://map.litterati.org/globalmap/
In the Oceans
Ocean Cleanup - floats on the ocean currents collecting plastic
You might have heard about Boyan Slat, the young Dutch man that founded The Ocean Cleanup at 18 - after a pilot project the North Sea they are gearing up for launching this summer in the Pacific Ocean. They have big ambitions, to clear 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years (half the previous estimates)
The Aussie Sea Bin project is aimed for marina areas, "strategic areas where waste accumulates". "The Seabin can catch an estimated 1.5 Kgs of floating debris per day (depending on weather and debris volumes) including microplastics up to 2 mm small."
The EU-funded project uses drone technology to map marine litter on Europe's coastlines. Assessing just how much plastic pollutes our beaches is a time-consuming process - LitterDrone is developing powerful software to automate much of this process and allows mapping in hard-to-reach areas. Projects like LitterDrone can get the information into the hands of the decisions makers mapping faster, more frequently and over greater areas.
A simIlar UK-drone-based project is utilising citizen science (i.e. you and me) to get involved and help the algorithm 'learn' by labelling plastics from images their drones have collected - take a look: https://www.theplastictide.com/tagit/
Of course the real plastic solution lies not in collecting it all, or even recycling. It lies in education and understanding - and distributing that knowledge making it accessible. The Plastic Pollution Coalition have a wealth of educational resources has curated films on the topic. And of course, Story of Stuff, tackles the issue in a very accessible way. Watch their video on microplastics.