|Picture by The Ocean Cleanup|
There are several solutions to preventing plastic usage, such as reusable bags, alternative plastics, etc. But there must be solutions for the plastic that is already in our oceans, rivers, and in our ecosystems. Most of that plastic will not degrade for many, many years, which is why some organizations are working on projects to get rid of the plastic where it is harming marine life the most; our ocean.
One organization, The Ocean Cleanup, has created a prototype system that will reduce the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a large area of plastic in the Pacific Ocean). The Ocean Cleanup has taken multiple steps to prevent their own prototype from further adding to the problem, such as not using plastic netting and instead using non-permeable screens. The prototype works by creating a U shape with the non-permeable screens (seen above), which will then catch the plastic. The screens are about five feet above and below the ocean's surface.
The process started in 2016 and now the The Ocean Cleanup is ready to test their prototype in the Pacific Ocean this summer. If the prototype is successful, it could be possible to take that plastic out of the ocean and reuse it for items that will not harm the ocean again. The project’s goal is to eliminate 50% of the plastic in the Pacific Ocean in 5 years.
To find out more and watch the progress of this cleanup solution, here are some references: