How Can We Clean Up the Ocean?
By Space Coast Daily // May 26, 2023
Trying to remove plastic from the ocean using techniques like massive nets is not beneficial or efficient. This is why there is more creativity needed when it comes to cleaning the oceans. Below are some of the ways of tapping the flow of pollution into the ocean and then cleaning them:
Stopping the flow of plastic from rivers and land
80% of the plastic that enters the oceans usually goes through the coastlines and rivers. A good approach to cleaning up the ocean is to look for ways of stopping the passage.
There are organizations that are collecting plastics from businesses, households, and the environment in coastal regions so they don’t get to the ocean. Here is what they do:
They collect the plastics before they make their way into the oceans. The method of collecting the plastic can be door-to-door and intercepts the waste as close to its source as possible. The logistic chain and steps can be tracked and verified using technology.
The plastic is then going to be sorted into two categories; recyclables and non-recyclables. This is mainly done by hand.
The ones that can be recycled are sent to recycling facilities. For non-recyclable plastic, they are going to be used in recovering energy. This can be through things like incineration in cement plants. This is going to help in reducing carbon emissions from the cement production process by 20%.
Below are some other great options that can be used to stop the waste from getting to the oceans.
In Kenya, the companies Smart Villages and Chemolex Company are preventing plastic from getting to the ocean by placing fences on the Athi River to divert the waste. They go to the conveyer belts where they will be recycled.
The TerraCycle Global Foundation has set up two systems in the Lat Phrao Canal that trap waste like plastic. The system has two outstretched booms that are attached to nets that trap trash that float below the surface.
Another company that is trying to stop plastic from getting to the ocean is The Ocean Conservancy. They are focused on making Vietnam’s Song Hong River plastic-free by using cleanup tools that have been designed and sourced locally. The cleanup tools are a mesh and two booms.
Coexistprojects.com is another organisation focused on protecting marine wildlife.
Cleaning the Beaches
It is way easier to clean the beach than it is to clean the ocean. When you want to clean the beach, you don’t need fancy technology or huge investments. All you need to do is gather volunteers from the local community. You can plan for the clean-up once every couple of days.
Cleaning the beach is not only going to help in stopping trash from entering the oceans, but it also removes 15% of plastic in the ocean. This is because when waste goes into the oceans, 15% of that is going to come back to the beaches.
While cleaning the beach won’t solve the issue, it helps a lot in raising awareness on ocean pollution. Educating people through action is very effective.
Prevent Agricultural Runoff from Entering the Oceans
A good way to do this is by dealing with the problem from the source, supporting farmers in reducing nutrient runoff, and creating awareness amongst them. How can the farmers help with this?
Livestock should not be spending a lot of time at the water edges
Having native trees, native buffers, grass, or shrub barriers between water bodies and tilled lands
Filling the fields with stubble in the winter months
Avoid leaving manure piles in the open and have a native buffer barrier or grass between the water bodies and the manure.
Lining the manure lagoons
Using fertilizer and manure only when the crops can utilize them fully. You should add the necessary amount of fertilizer or manure.
Creating Incentives to Eliminate Plastic Use
Giving out financial incentives to the general public and companies has been shown to be effective in helping reduce plastic waste and encouraging recycling. There are many ways this can be done, with the following ones being the main ones:
Investors focus more on companies that are trying to reduce plastic waste and usage.
Companies offer money-back or incentives to customers who choose other materials instead of plastic or return the plastic to be recycled.
Tax cuts from governments from companies that are choosing plastic-free options.
One good example of this is the deposit refund scheme that has worked to change consumer behavior. This involves refunding tax to the consumer when they return packaging for recycling. South Australia saw a decrease in container trash on their beach when they adopted this scheme.
These systems can also be found in Europe top. The main countries that have used this approach are Denmark, Croatia, Germany, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Lithuania, Iceland, and Sweden.