The Ocean Legacy Foundation has made a breakthrough in cleaning up plastic from the ocean — by recycling it into usable plastic pellets, Inhabitat reports.
Currently, the ocean holds about 170 trillion pieces of discarded plastic, most of them tiny fragments called microplastics that end up in our food, water, and even our bodies.
Cleaning up the ocean is a huge task — and according to Inhabitat, no single government is likely to take responsibility for the project because many countries have contributed to the mess.
For this reason, the Ocean Legacy Foundation is trying to make it profitable to remove plastic waste from the ocean, incentivizing businesses to get involved.
According to Inhabitat, the Ocean Legacy Foundation has unveiled Legacy Plastic: small beads of recycled plastic ready to be manufactured into a wide range of products. The beads are 100% made from marine plastic cleaned up from the ocean and the shoreline.
Plastic recycling has been difficult in the past, as different types cannot usually be processed together, and some release harmful chemicals when melted down. This difficulty has meant that most plastic isn’t reused at all, leading Greenpeace to call plastic recycling in the U.S. a “failed concept.”
But the Ocean Legacy Foundation sees a better way forward.
“Creating opportunities that bolster the use of materials collected during cleanup into new products will continue to advance the success of the plastic circular economy,” Ocean Legacy Foundation co-founder Chloé Dubois told Inhabitat.
A circular economy — a system in which waste materials are recycled into new products instead of being thrown away, and products are designed to be easily recycled — is the holy grail for eco-friendly, non-polluting waste disposal.
Recycled material is usually cheaper for manufacturers, lowering the cost of products. At the same time, it means fewer raw materials being taken from the environment and less pollution being produced, all while cleaning up the ocean.
The Ocean Legacy Foundation is already partnering with Full Circle Plastics to create recycled plastic lumber for fences, planters, and outdoor furniture.
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