April 2009 is the launch date for an extraordinary project: A Convenient Truth, or ACT. Young Dutch academics create an international network to look for solutions to important global problems, and will put their solutions into practice. The first subject they will tackle is the plastic waste in the oceans.
What might be the world's biggest rubbish heap floats about in the Pacific near Hawaii. It is an enormous amount of plastic, twice as big as the state of Texas. This plastic soup has a dramatic effect on all life, from plankton to whales. More than a million birds, hundreds of thousands of mammals and an even larger number of fish die every year because they eat plastic or get tangled up in it and then drown or starve to death. This is a global problem. An estimated 90 percent of all rubbish in the seas and oceans consists of plastic. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 floating plastic objects and fragments. Studies by American research institutes have shown that plastic does not degrade. In the oceans synthetic material from the fifties is being found that is as good as new. How do we get rid of it? ACT is taking on the challenge!
In conjunction with this project, a book entitled 'Plastic Soup' will provide an introduction to the problem of plastics in the marine environment, and to some of the answers that have been found already.
The author of Plastic Soup, Jesse Gossens, visited Water Witch Workboats last year to interview Jackie Caddick, CEO on some of the solutions Water Witch have developed to recover plastic debris and trash within waterways.
Jackie commented 'we have made the plastics and created the trash problem, now humans need to step up and solve it'.
Now science is faced with an important task: the answering of pressing questions. How large is the damage that has already been done? How really toxic are the seemingly harmless plastics that we so take for granted? What are the solutions available to ensure that the amount of plastic in the oceans does not increase.Visit the Plastic Soup web site for more information.