27/10/2016

Drones might soon clean up after us – but we can’t stop recycling

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We’ve all seen the small autonomous Roombas that vacuum the floors of our house (and cats riding them). Now imagine one to filter the plastic waste out of our oceans.

That’s what the Drone 1-001-1 is designed for. Created by France-based industrial design student Elie Ahovi, this machine uses sonar to navigate the vast expanse of our rubbish-filled oceans, sifting through and collecting foreign objects while avoiding marine life through infra-sound technologies.

Every year, more than 6 million tonnes of rubbish is dumped into the world’s oceans, killing more than a million seabirds and 100 000 mammals. (Charles Moore in Environmental Research 2008).

The drones will be focused on continent sized areas where most of the world’s garbage accumulates due to the nature of the planets currents and pressure systems. After sweeping through the derelict waters for up to two weeks at a time, the mostly-plastic waste is then sorted through and collected for recycling.

So if our waste is being sorted for us, does this mean we can recycle less?

Nope!

Here’s why:

While removing the plastic matter from our oceans is a step in the right direction, it is only half the solution. Like the Roomba, it can only partially clean the surface of a problem that runs much deeper.

Plastics are decomposing faster than first thought, and this process releases poisonous chemicals such as bisphenol A – a chemical found in hard plastics such as water bottles, which, along with plastic bags, make up a large proportion of plastics found in our oceans.  This toxin interferes with the reproductive system of animals and causes permanent, irreversible damage.

So while removing it is good, not having it there in the first place would be even better.

Living a life free of (or with less!) plastic is hard but not impossible. After all, we owe it to our planet.

Here are some simple ways you can remove plastic from your everyday life:

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