Plastic island spotted off the coast of Corsica

Credit: iStock

A team of researchers have stated that they have spotted a floating plastic island between Corsica and the Italian island of Elbe.  It is apparently several kilometers long!

A “floating island” several kilometres long has recently formed due to currents along the Corsican coastline, according to the AFP.  This is not a new situation and can happen often.  However this floating island is only temporary unlike the massive islands made up of plastic that float in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. This island should only last a couple of days but it ought to remind us of the importance of trying to reduce our consumption of plastic.

It is a chronic situation,” explains François Galgani from the Corsican brand of the the French Maritime Research Institute IFREMER.  He continued by emphasising that “the currents in the north west of the Mediterranean are organised so that the water rises along the Italian coast and when it arrives at the base of Elbe island, the Tuscan archipelago – it can not pass.  As a result it will rush through a channel.   This is why we have higher densities in the this area.”  The researcher also highlighted that massive build ups of plastic form “during unfavorable meteorological conditions like north easterly winds in summer.”

Non recyclable waste

Biologist and oceanographic specialist, François Galgani highlights that the main problem is that the waste has no value.  In other words it is highly likely that no effort will be made to recover ocean waste. “To clean this waste, there must be some value to what will be recovered,” states the researcher. Fishing nets are very expensive but they can be repaired, reused and therefore recycled if found on the seabed. However floating waste in the ocean is not recyclable. This waste is very degraded and is a giant mix of different types of plastics.   This is why floating ocean waste is exceedingly expensive to recycle. Due the cost no one will recycle it!

Plastic pollution, a real problem in the oceans ! Credits: Flickr

Manufactures make plastic by adding different chemically produced monomers.  As a result the material becomes more resistant and malleable.  You can create whatever product you’d like.  The difficulty is that these chemical substances are very difficult to eliminate during the recycling process. What is more the quality of the finished product is altered. There are two possible solutions: either we stop using as much plastic or we invent another way to constantly recycle plastic.

A new procedure along these lines has recently been outlined in study published in the journal called Nature.  The method involves adding an acid which will separate the chemical monomer additives.  Once the molecular decomposition begins, a new plastic which can guarantee the same qualities and strength as the original product can be made.  Other studies are necessary to perfect this technique but it could be a real step forward.


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