Companies Are Taking Action on Ocean Plastic Pollution

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 15, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Ocean Cleanup project -- a multi-national effort to take out an island of trash floating in the Pacific -- is failing.

It turns out the cleanup machine, a giant barrier that scoops up debris, has a problem. The rubbish was slipping out, and now it's broken. That happens when people and companies dump their trash into the ocean for generations. There's just too much.

But now companies are starting to take action to clean up plastic pollution. For example, Adidas is now making a shoe from recycled marine plastic in partnership with the non-profit Parley for the Oceans. Whether initiatives like this are done for PR reasons for out of genuine concern for the environment, it's sure to continue as a growing movement.

Too Much Trash

Boyan Slat, a 24-year-old optimist, invented the U-shaped cleanup device. He raised $20 million for the project, but the garbage patch is twice the size of Texas. It is floating in the ocean between Hawaii and California.

"What we're trying to do has never been done before," Slat told The Guardian. "So, of course we were expecting to still need to fix a few things before it becomes fully operational."

A Dutch non-profit, the Ocean Cleanup started five years ago. Its primary vessel returned to San Francisco Bay last month for supplies and equipment to modify the device, and then a large part of it broke under load.

"The journey toward a clean ocean is certainly not an easy one," said Chief Operations Officer Lonneke Holierhoek from her office in Rotterdam.

Journey, Not Easy

While everybody who has tossed plastic away has a hand in it, some people -- and businesses -- waste more plastic than others. Forbes reports that five Asian countries are the worst polluters of the ocean.

China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are throwing more plastic into the ocean than the rest of the world combined. Indonesia's Citarum River is known as the most polluted river in the world.

The United States, a plastics-consumer nation, is also part of the problem. The U.S. wasted about 33.6 million tons of plastic in 2017, and recycled only 9.5 percent of it.

Experts say the best way to cut plastic waste is to cut consumption.

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