Models Show Garbage Clean-up More Effective on Shoreline Than in Gyres

Image of trash on a beach by Flickr user Gerry & Bonni

The health of oceans in the face of massive pollution has been a topic of this blog on multiple occasions, and we’re always interested in learning more about the efforts to clean up the incredible amounts of waste, especially plastic, in one of the most–if not the most–important global ecosystems. New models by researchers at Imperial College London are hypothesizing that, rather than targeting sites like the great Pacific garbage patch, trash pick-up by floating microplastic collectors should be more effective near the coasts, where the rubbish originates. Sarah DeWeerdt reports for Conservation Magazine:

Cleanup efforts for ocean plastics should be concentrated close to shore, at the source of the problem, rather than in areas of open ocean where plastic tends to accumulate, according to a study recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Ideally, if plastic collectors were placed offshore near coastal population centers, they could remove nearly one-third of plastic in the ocean over the next 10 years.

In the study, oceanographer Erik van Sebille and undergraduate physics student Peter Sherman, both at Imperial College London, used data on ocean currents and waste management practices in different countries to simulate the entry and circulation of plastic in the oceans from 2015 to 2025.

Continue reading

Sweden, Take Our Trash, too?

With Swedes recycling almost half (47 percent) of their waste and using 52 percent to generate heat, less than 1 percent of garbage now ends up in the dump PHOTO: Shutterstock

With Swedes recycling almost half (47 percent) of their waste and using 52 percent to generate heat, less than 1 percent of garbage now ends up in the dump PHOTO: Shutterstock

Now, to ask someone to take your garbage will be met with censure in any part of the world, but not in Sweden. Since the country’s waste incineration program began in the 1940s, 950,000 homes are heated by trash; this lowly resource also provides electricity for 260,000 homes across the country, according to statistics. But there’s a problem: there is simply not enough trash.

Americans, in general, are bad at recycling. In 2010, U.S. residents recycled 34% of their waste—an embarrassing amount compared to European countries like the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria, where people recycle almost all of their waste. In Sweden, people are so diligent about recycling that just 4% of all trash ends up in landfills, It’s a heartening statistic, but it has led to a problem for the country—there’s not enough garbage to power the country’s large waste-to-energy program. Sweden’s solution: import trash. More.

Continue reading