Plastic is everywhere: In the food you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe... You eat a credit card’s worth of plastic per week. Your body is full of it. How does it affect you? Maybe sterility, cancer, obesity... And a lot of it comes from sea plastic killing millions of animals.
It was mentioned that the waste management in the Philippines is 100 times worse than the UK. While this might be true , the UK exports 2/3rds of its plastic waste mostly to poorer countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. That doesn't mean good waste management, surely? It would be interesting to know how much of this illegal dumping contributes to the waste run off to the rivers and oceans. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51176312
I like your two charities, but I think that you have ignored the elephant in the room! The obvious solution would be for rich countries like the US and Canada etc. to spend "small bucks" of tax money to improve waste management practices in the countries that are the source of the problem, starting with the Philippines. Here in Canada, we could easily save more than enough money by dropping our meaningless nuisance virtue-signaling programs to ban plastic straws and shopping bags.
The myopia that drives well-meaning people (including Justin Trudeau) to focus on the smallest parts of this problem while ignoring the largest parts seems to dwarf a similar form of myopia in the realm of abating global CO2 emissions. But at least in that field, there are vital needs that are being met by China's and India's and Africa's increases in coal-fired generation. I can see no similar needs being met when the world's rich countries sit idly by (or distract ourselves with trifles) while a few countries throw most of the world's plastic trash into the oceans.
Good to see some people getting together and doing something about humanity's leaky nappy
We need a simplified version of this text to publish in our local areas.
I live in Vietnam. I know many of the commonly read channels and could give this sort of thing massive distribution very easily. But the text needs to be in Vietnamese.
...And our beaches are covered in plastic! I've seen it 1 metre deep. So the locals know what the problem is.
Thank you Tomas for this well-researched and well-presented article on ocean plastic.
I knew about the mainly plastic problem in the Philippines, but I wasn't aware of the ton of plastics on the Mediterranean shore (I'm Italian). Very sad.
Anyway, I'm here to ask for your help on a common topic: climate change.
I know it's a vast topic, but in all sincerity, I find myself so confused by this topic that sometimes I sense a diverse range of feelings: a gut feeling of alarmism and a mind that tells me: "wait a minute: try to do more research about it".
I'm very uneducated on this topic. Although I tend to consent to the famous "97% consensus" and despite deniers, I'm nowhere near feeding the skeptical animal spirit that tells me: "don't believe all that MSM says".
I believe in surrounding ourselves with the best content creators, and given that I consider you one of those, may I ask you: Is there a blog, a company, or a person that earned some of your trust on this topic???
I hope not to have bothered you with this question, but I will appreciate if you'd like to share something.
Thanks for all your great article so far.
A fantastic (if very depressing) article and the two projects you are donating to look great. We recently came across another project that looks very innovative. It's called SeaChain and is an offshoot of the Pangea Ocean Project, which seems legit and also focuses on placing barriers in highly polluting rivers. Their innovation is that they use blockchain technology to raise funds via their SeaChain token (https://www.seachaintoken.com), with upcoming NFT games and collectibles. I read somewhere they are even exploring using blockchain to track plastic waste. We bought some tokens a few months ago to support them (originally called Pangea Ocean Cleanup (POC), now rebranded as SeaChain). If this project takes off and the tokens appreciate it will provide an incentive for more people to participate, providing a funding stream. Mark
Thanks for writing about this. Here in Japan, where a good percentage of the population is diligent about recycling, the collected plastic waste is mostly burned. So Japan is not one of the big ocean plastic offenders. But perhaps an analysis of what damage is being done by pumping all this plastic into the onion skin of an atmosphere we all depend on would open some eyes.
One thought re the solar powered thing to clear plastic from rivers: i can see this working for plastics that float. does the existing design also hoover up plastics that sink? okay these might be less mobile, less easy to filter out, and less visible but they still could do with being cleared out (even if it has to wait until the mk2 or mk3 version). there is life on and around the floor of our seas oceans and rivers and the plastics can be damaging for these creatures and those that feed on them.
Which includes anyone who eats any kind of seafood / crustaceans....
Great analysis as usual, but I'm wondering why the solutions chosen focus on getting plastic out of the stream, rather than blocking it going in ? Isn't this a bit like mopping the floor while the tap is still on ?
I should say though, that I'm so glad the Ocean Cleanup have moved to the rivers, cleaning plastic up in the middle of ocean gyre's - made no sense to me ... elevated cost (working in open ocean) and reduced collection (very dilute)
What I'd love to see are some numbers - specifically the cost per tonne of cleanup, lets prioritise supporting the groups with the lowest cost per tonne (or lowest realistic projection of cost at scale) rather than those with the fanciest videos.
Hi Tomas, thanks for replying.
I'll tackle this using separate answers fir each topic.
The bigger groups are the "Expats in ...." group such as https://www.facebook.com/groups/expatshcmc. That is 140k members. Each of the major cities has that sort of group. They largely consist of the expat-plus-VN-partner. And it's the VN partner we are trying to connect with. It's not difficult to drop onto those groups.
It's possible to substitute the city name in the search (expats in Phu Quoc) and you are sure to find the groups. But these are super spreaders. They spread the word to the other more localised groups. We need a trigger that motivates the spreaders.
At localised levels we get informal groups such as "Viet Lam xxxx" where xxxx is the locality. These groups are frequented by younger less well educated people.
The n there's the "Tin Duc xxxx" groups. These are unofficial sources of news. They pick up something they see as popular reading and duplicate it. In my area there is one for my province, one for my city and one for my ward.
"You eat a credit card’s worth of plastic a week."
While extremely widely quoted, this statistic is widely off, as flagged by e.g. Nature News editor Richard van Noorden:
I should say though, that I'm so glad the Ocean Cleanup have moved to the rivers, cleaning plastic up at its most dilute - middle of ocean gyre's - made no sense to me.
What I'd love to see are some numbers - specifically the cost per tonne of cleanup, lets prioritise supporting the groups with the lowest cost per tonne rather than those with the fanciest videos.
Tremendous article about plastic and its damage over our planet. I wonder how much has been added during this COVID-19 pandemic?
I am retired and living in the Philippines in Manila. The problem here is compounded by the large number of squatters ( informal settlers) who live along the river banks, streams, and canals, often building houses over the water as it is public space. This has been going on for decades and the government has had mixed success in relocating people away from these areas. Progress is being made and their have been cleanup campaigns along the shoreline for many years. "Bawal magtapan ng basura dito", (don't throw your trash here) signs are everywhere in Metro Manila. A large amount of plastic packaging and bottles - t(he tap water is generally not considered safe to drink) and the lack of sanitary landfills throughout the country means there is a lot of litter everywhere. Some of the cities here have banned plastic grocery bags. One writer said that throw away culture is a Filipino tradition going back to eating off a banana leaf and drinking from a coconut shell.
An economical plan to clean the oceans of plastic trash: https://evadeli.blogspot.com/2019/02/a-novel-and-economical-plan-to-clean.html
In that map I see that there are one river in my city (105 tons/year).
I will question the city government and two cities aside (112 and 118 tons/year) !