Two breakthroughs in dealing with plastic waste welcomed
Two new scientific breakthroughs in dealing with the problem of plastic waste have been welcomed by a Midlands green energy expert.
Firstly, a Californian ship set out last week pulling a 2,000ft-long floating boom which will be used to help clear a rubbish dump in the Pacific ocean which is more than twice the size of France.
Secondly, a plastic-eating fungus has been found on a Pakistan rubbish dump which could help destroy waste on land and in the seas.
“Both moves are great news as urgent action is needed to sort out the world’s plastic problem,” said Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.
He said around one million plastic bottles are sold every minute around the globe with just 14 per cent recycled. Most of the rest end up in the world’s oceans harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood.
“If this issue is not tackled soon there will be more plastic, by weight, than fish in our oceans by 2050,” he added.
The boom and an attached nylon screen, which will take a few weeks to travel the 1,000 nautical miles to its destination, will sweep the ocean of debris to a depth of ten feet and every few months a ship will collect the plastic and take it back to San Francisco to be recycled to finance the operation.
It is the brainchild of Boyan Slat, 24, a Dutchman, who has raised £24 million for his non-profit organization, The Ocean Cleanup, which plans to could collect about 50 per cent of the plastic in the Pacific within five years.
Staff will live on a boat alongside to monitor the work while scientists will study the effects on marine organisms and the impact of ocean plastics on marine life.
Meanwhile, last week the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew said scientists had found a fungi on a rubbish dump in Islamabad which broke down plastics such as polyester polyurethane.
Now scientists are working to identify the genes that produces the enzyme which the fungus is using to eat the plastic.
They are hoping that within the next five years it can be produced in commercial quantities so it can be put in marine fungi to clear the plastic in the oceans.
The report by the Kew Gardens, with the help of 100 scientists from 18 countries, said fewer than 5 per cent of the world’s estimated fungi have been identified and last year 2,000 new species were identified including those living under fingernails, on oil paintings and in house dust.
They believe the fungi could also help develop clean fuels and clean up areas polluted with high levels of radiation.
“This all very encouraging but householders must also play their part in fighting global warming by switching to green energy, by recycling and insulating their homes,” added Ron
For more advice on green energy contact him on 0845 474 6641 or go to www.noreus.co.uk