Combating plastic pollution requires modern technology.
PFM advocates, tests, and employs technologies in the following areas:
Mapping & assessment
Sorting & databasing
Dr. Ceri Lewis and team at the University of Exeter have proven an obvious destination for microplastic: in the guts of aquatic animals near the bottom of the food chain. Do all you fishermen see the ramifications? Plastic pollution's weakening of the aquatic foodchain means fewer fish, more algal blooms, and ripple effects for agriculture and everyone's food security. This is why it is imperative to stop and remediate plastic pollution everywhere.
How Plastic Pollution Contaminates the Food Chain
The Ocean Cleanup Tackles River Plastic
The Ocean Cleanup has been a global leader in cleanup technology for nearly a decade. After multiple deep-water prototypes, they have turned their strategy to address the epic failure of governments to handle stormwater pollution, plastic in particular. They've done the research and identified 1000 rivers where plastic pollution must be dramatically reduced in order to preserve our chances for food and water security into the future. This video highlights their first deployment in Malaysia with a flair for the dramatic this mission certainly deserves.
Mapping Plastic Pollution from Space
Yes, oceanic plastic-pollution patches and fronts are large enough to see from space. Two recent articles demonstrated plastic-pollution tracking with multi-spectral (color) classifiers based on images from several satellites including the ESA Sentinel-2.
A Greek technical group teamed with Roatan Marine Park of Honduras to track plastic-pollution over a 40,000 sq.km area of the Caribbean Sea, verifying plastic pollution with on-site photography, while a joint British/Greek team applied similar classifiers at multiple coastal sites around the world. The common scenario for extreme plastic-pollution events is riverine stormwater runoff from urban areas. While closer dedicated sensors may be the ultimate plastic-pollution mapping and assessment tools, satellite sensors like these can provide top-level views of chronic plastic-pollution sites to show where resources should be directed to stop destruction of the ocean and monitor improvement.