Oceanic Plastic Pollution , a case for Remediation

Abstract: Plastics pollution of global water has become a matter of public record, and is an issue that is not expected to become resolved at any point in the near future.  From remote beaches littered with tons of plastic annually to oceangyres that have become thousands of square miles of a ‘plastic soup’ littered with all sizes of plastics floating at various depths; plastic has become an environmental catastrophe.  Arial, oceanic and land based creatures of all shapes and sizes are now consuming plastics on a regular basis.  In addition to the volume of plastics consumed,  mass quantity of chemicals are leaching out of the plastics and poisoning estuaries, inlets and deep sea waters.  Many scientists and wastemanagement professionals alike agree that solutions, including reductions of consumption are necessary. Effective management of waste materials is limited by infrastructure and with billions of pounds of oceanic plasticpollution, remediationefforts are becoming to be understood as a mandatory part of the solutions process   Keywords: Plastic pollution, oceans, contamination, 5 Gyres, oil, chemical leaching, poisoning, remediation, pyrolysis   I. Introduction Philosophers, economists and scientists have noted that with each effort to improve upon life, change in our environment in imminent.  As the consumption rates of first world nations increases beyond the rates of effective management, more and more plastic is finding its way into our planetary systems.  What happens to this plastic once it enters the oceans?  How does it break down and how does that impact the environment?  While these questions may have been asked during the first hundred years after plastic was invented, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that scientists had any clue that this would really become a question that would need to be studied.  Today, scientists are studying the real and lasting impacts of plastic on a wide variety of ecosystems across the planet.  The one conclusion they have had since the 1970’s, plastics and their source components don’t go away (Shashoua, 2006).  Instead, it behaves like rock turning into fine grains of sand and becomes smaller and smaller pieces of itself.  The depth of  impact by plastic in the ocean varies by geographic region, pollution intensity and ocean current.  The source of this problem is human impact on the planet, our manufacturing and consumption of goods; goods that are not environmentally neutral but instead pose a variety of major of concerns on the environment. The goal of this paper is to examine the concerns of plastics on the environment.  Through a cursory examination of several of the individual areas that contribute to the size of the problem,  reviewing concerns for future impact, and an examination of possible solutions to remediate the existing damage; readers should find themselves motivated to change their daily practices and comprehend the level of work that is going to be needed to reduce pollution in our oceans. II. Literature Review Then focus of plastic contamination of our oceans ebbs and flow like the waters themselves.  News organizations catch on to the story when environmental conditions like a tsunami occur, or when some tragedy like a missing boat or airplane bring search crews out.  Then the story finds its way into the short term focus, only to fall away again as other stories become top priority. Unfortunately, the problems in the ocean are not new, and neither is the depositing of waste into the ocean deep. Plastics, and their persistency in the ocean, are the real issue, one that has yet to be caught by mainstream media sources; according to Dr. Marcus Eriksen, a co-founder of the 5 GyresInstitute.  In a conversation in Chemical and Engineering news in 2010, he exerts that; “Many marine species, including fish eaten by humans, ingest the plastic particles, presumably mistaking it for food. Plastic debris has been found in 44% of seabird species, all sea turtle species, 22 whale species, and a long list of fish,”. (Erickson, 2010) In reality, the awareness of plastic in the ocean began in the 1970’s.  One major effort to curb oceanic pollution is called  “International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 197” or Marpol 73/78.  (Clendenon & Atkins, 2014) didn’t actually get enacted until 1983.  Marginal participation in examining or prosecuting violators is still low today.    This reality can be evidenced by studies occurring around the globe in regards to both the persistency and the impact of plasticpollution. To begin with, examinations around the globe are proving that each of the five gyres are contaminated with plastics.  The initial tests conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found, “14 species of fish recovered in the nets, eight were found with plastics in their stomachs” (Bottenus, 2013).  While this may be startling to the average reader, it’s important to know that this is recognized as the first of many studies surrounding the persistency of plastic in the oceans today.  In a series of explorations by the 5 GyresInstitute, one of the preeminent oceanic research institutions, studies show a growing persistency of plastic present in tests around the planet. “We found six times more plastic than plankton, and this was just colossal,”said Charles Moore of the Algalita MarineResearch Foundation, “No one had any idea this was happening, or what it might mean for marine ecosystems, or even where all this stuff was coming from.” (Grant, 2009) The presence of plastic by itself is definitely as significant issue. While many of the scientists who are involved in examining the ocean find the frequency of large ‘lost’ materials from fishing and shipping industry appalling, it’s the biological and chemical impacts of the smaller plastics that are most disconcerting.  Scientists originally believed that the impact of plastic, and any chemical discharge would come into a quick equilibrium with the ocean waters.  Based on tests by Chelsea Rochman and her team, it was discovered that “some plastics continued to accumulate these pollutants for months, in contrast with earlier lab studies showing that plastics come to equilibrium with these pollutants over several days”  (Lockwood, 2012).  This study has proven to bring a greater understanding to the impacts of plastic as part of the active changes in the planet’s oceans. According to a variety of studies, the impact of the plastics on marine biology is a real and imminent danger.  Several other studies,there is an agreement that plastics are leaching chemicals into the ocean via plastics that are a threat to life.  This is because, “the combination of greater PAHs on virgin PS pellets and relatively large concentrations of sorbed PAHs from ambient seawater suggests that PS may pose a greater risk of exposure to PAHs when it is ingested by marine animals than the other most commonly produced plastic types (HDPE, LDPE, PP, PET, and PVC)” (Rochman, 2012). These plastics are also posing other issues, primarily the deterioration of life in those knowns species that consume plastics they confuse as food.  As oceanplastics break down, in addition to leaching chemicals into the waters – the plastic materials themselves are breaking down into smaller particles of the plastic (Day, 1990).  This size change is becoming problematic as small particles of plastic become confused for the zooplankton and other invertebrate that serve as food (Grant, 2009).  One study of Freshwater Shearers on a remote island outside of Tasmania, Australia proved that “16% of hatchlings were fed plastics upon their first feeding”.  This is a catastrophic consumption that  is well beyond acceptable consumption.  “The research found the number of birds ingesting plastic increased over the four-year study, with more than 60 per cent of fledglings exceeding international targets for plastic ingestion by seabirds” (Lavers, 2014)  Additional reports examine the impact of these plastics by mites, fleas, fish and birds of various types, all come to a similar conclusion – the mess is big, the damage is real, and something needs to be done to reduce the new amounts of plastic entering the ocean. III.  Development and Analysis: A. The History of Plastic To understand the real and irreversible impact that humans have played on the future of life on the planet, we must first examine and understand the history and use of plastics, also known as a class of synthetic or man made materials known as synthetic polymers.  The historical timeline of plastics creation spans nearly 150 years with many inventors and scientists creating upon the work of their predecessors to improve upon the work, creating a wide array of materials and new chemicals.  According to the PlasticsHistoricalSociety (PHS), the first creator of man-madeplastic was Alexander Parkes who presented his material to the public it at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. Like many entrepreneurs throughout history, Parkes had difficulties converting his invention to a manufactured product at a scale that would reach a scale that would prove affordable to the general public.  Unfortunately, due to Parkes’s inability to develop his Parkesine in mass production,  history credits John Wesley Hyatt as the first ‘father of plastics’.  Hyatt developed upon Parkes’s material to create Celluloid while attempting to win a ten thousand dollar prize for creating a material to replace ivory in the production of billiards balls (Morgan, 2011).  Instead, with the ability to develop the machinery to for mass production of his material, Hyatt’s new material found its way into many uses, the most well known is material first used to make motion pictures. Following the invention of these first plastics, commonly classified as synthetic polymers, many a new material was made including new and untested chemicals.  In addition, through the development of modern plastics, a wide variety of known and unknown fillers were combined to create various successful materials.  These fillers, along with various technical processes produced a wide spectrum of plastics.  With innovation of materials came a wide spectrum of uses based on the various material and chemical characteristics.  Throughout time, some variations and uses of the materials have even become popular as collectables. Examples of many valued plastics can be seen at the “The National Plastics Center at Syracuse University.” (Radvon, 2008) and at “The Victoria & Albert Museum” where proper curation of plastics materials has become an effort to catalogue and maintain a wide variety of plastic museum pieces (Then and Oakley, 1993). Understanding the chemical properties of these synthetic materials allows for an understanding of the roles they play in the future of life in the ocean as it continues to accumulate.  The basic chemical structure of plastic is known as a polymer, and the basic building block is known as a monomer.  Each monomer is structurally the same as the next, hence the latin ‘poly’ representing many monomers being combined.  Under this classification come two more important classifications of plastics, thermoplastics and thermosets.  Common recyclable plastics like soda bottles and milk cartons are thermoplastics.  The advantage in this type of plastic is that it can be heated and physically reformed multiple times.   The secondary type of plastic is known as thermoset.  As the name suggests, these plastics have a chemical structure that is set into form and cannot be recycled effectively.  Generally, these types of plastics are baked and moulded into shape.  The chemical aspects of the process, including the various and sometimes random fillers used in these materials generally make these plastics a permanent product that is not considered of high value for the recycling industry.   In addition to these polymer strains of organic materials mixed with petroleum based products, there are other types of plastics made from continuous monomer chains that are generally mixed with formaldehyde    or other chemicals that, have proven to be a significant problem throughout the world.  (GESAMP, 2010) B. A Brief History of Chemical Contamination A cursory examination of the chemical incidents in the United States during the late 1960’s that capped with the burning of the Cuyahoga River and sparked the fires of an environmental revolution.   This revolution formed the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, The Clean Air and Water acts, as well as what may be one of the planet’s worst changes in the way the government responded to environmental disasters especially focusing on  chemical and petroleum industries.  One of the tipping points in this process exposure of the life cycle and residual impact of these chemicals is known as Love Canal .  Various battles over authority to regulate, and to fund the cleanup created an act known as, “The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, was enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980.” (EPA, 2014) This set of regulations had intentions of cleaning up locations throughout the US where the processes of industry had contaminated the land and threatened long term, if not permanent damage to the environment and life in general. In the United States, many areas where chemicals were used in manufacturing systems have become noted for the toxic substances used on these sites.  A series of regulation changes throughout the 1970’s and 80’s closed sites where chemical contamination of the site, shut the area down until contamination could be remediated.  These sites, commonly known as ‘Superfund Sites’ include contamination from manufactured plastics known as Phenolic resins. This Phenolic resin or  plastic is,  “a form of phenol-formaldehyde resins, which are made by reacting phenol, (carbolic acid) with formaldehyde, a product of carbon monoxide and hydrogen” (Holdsworth, 2011).  Another version early plastic known as Bakelite used a variety of fillers that could include ash, paper pulp or asbestos.   Asbestos is known to be a harmful product to humans and animals.  According to the National Research council, “Cook and Olson’s (1979) demonstration of asbestos in human urine, which abated when drinking water was filtered, provides substantial evidence that fibers enter into systemic circulation” (N.R.C.,2006)  The same report also stated that the number of factories utilizing asbestos in “Paper, packing, or asphalt products” between 1966-1970 is unknown because this information was unreported (N.R.C, 2006). C. Leaching poisons into water As the array of new of ‘new plastics’ and other chemicals grew, and regulations changed –  an untold spectrum of materials were used as fillers to produce various qualities of these manufactured plastics.  In the last 30 years, one of the major materials that has been added to a variety of plastics is Bisphenol A (BPA).  According to reports, the manufacturing industry has a demand for over 2.7 million tons of BPA in use for epoxies, resins and other industrial uses.  BPA has also been found in plastics, including the plastics used for potable water for human consumption (Artham, 2012).   One of the most shocking of all factors regarding this chemical is that it has been proven to have a wide variety of impacts on a wide spectrum of water based ecosystems.  One of many examples, a study of  the abalone – Haliotis diversicolor supertexta, a shelled invertebrate that is common to marine life.  This study examines the impacts of BPA over a variety of concerns on the impact of the chemical over time.   One of the developments of this study proved that, “BPA treatment resulted in developmental malformation, hatchability decrease and metamorphosis disturbance, and even larvae death (Zhou et al, 2011).  The effects of this chemical are known to act as an endocrine disruptor, acting similar to estrogen in humans (Arthram, 2012). Chemical and Engineering news has reported multiple times about the damage of chemicals that leach from plastics.  A 2011 article discussing packaging specifically states that “BPA is just one of hundreds of molecules that can migrate out of plastics. That group also includes di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, a potential carcinogen and endocrine disrupter that helps make plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) supple and bendable; phenolic antioxidants such as Irganox 1076; and benzophenone light stabilizers.” This is one of many articles available showing the simple reality that all plastics used in packaging have elements that impact the environment around them.  The statement that,“It is not a question of whether packaging components will leach into a product, it’s a question of how much.” (Everts, 2009) is an easy to comprehend summation.  Each of these chemicals has the potential to impact the quality of life of some species. D. The Growth of Consumption: End of Life issues Logically understanding that manufactured goods have the potential to emit some form of chemicalpollution into the environment they exist is just one of the aspects necessary to comprehend.  The second important aspect in understanding the impact of plasticpollution on the ocean is to comprehend the quantity.  Because the oceans consist of 70 percent of the surface area of our planet, it is easy to dismiss concerns of pollution into a once common phrase, “The solution to pollution is dilution”.  This concept represents the common understanding for those that work in the wastemanagement community that most Americans don’t consider the life of their waste once they throw it away.  It is not part of the programmed culture or agenda as part of mainstream society.  In many first world nations where wastemanagement systems of the 21st century seem to be an automated process, the waste receptacle is the final stage of thought regarding a product’s lifecycle. During the modern era of the 20th century, it is unfortunate to note that urban areas of the world; especially the quickly expanding and relatively young metropolitan areas of the United States, experienced a variety of difficulties in establishing and maintaining sustainable wastemanagement practices.  Difficulties in maintaining sanitary streets were known to lead to the outbreak of disease, so the people were not tolerant of debris.  While city officials may have been spurred to clean up wastes in the city, if a family had the means they would pay a private contractor to haul their waste to, “ be dumped with other wastes into the Atlantic Ocean” (Royte, 2008).  In truth, this practice was not new, and often considered a standard practice, especially for maritime vessels, many of which still participate in the practice.  The practice of dumping wastes at sea is now regulated by international maritime law, but is still believed to occur regularly, as it is difficult if not impossible to regulate. of seafaring vessels, the creation of these new ‘permanent’ manufactured goods added unknown materials into the waste stream. E. Spanning the 5 Gyres Today we know that our oceans are full of garbage.  Each of the 5 primary gyres has a plastic ‘dead zone’ (GESAMP, 2011).  The full scope and size of the impact is not fully known to man.  Early scientific discovery highlighting the problem began in the 70’s.  Unfortunately, there are not that many studies that focused on plastic in the ocean in the early years.  An example of early studies xample is a Woods Hole Oceanographic Society study of the Hudson Bay whose focus was a plankton study.  As part of the netting, many different insects and fish were also captured in the process of collecting samples.  In an examination of the various species it was discovered that eight of the fourteen species of fish were found to have evidence of plastic in their stomachs ( Rios, et al, 2010 ) Unfortunately it took more than 20 years for Captain Charles Moore to take a trip into the dead space of the ocean that shipping routes had avoided due to a lack of tradewinds thus resulting in dead waters.  In a circumstance that he simply describes as, “we had extra fuel, we decided to take a shortcut.” Moore goes on to say that, The discovery for me was not so much “Well, I’m in a garbage patch.” It wasn’t like an island of trash like people keep wanting to say. It’s just that I couldn’t survey the surface of the ocean for any period of time while standing on deck without seeing some anthropogenic debris, something that was human in origin, float by. Not necessarily a large something, but just something.” (Greenburg, 2009) For Moore it took two years to have the ability to examine the depth and scope  of the level of pollution that was to be found.  Many Americans view the idea of pollution in the ocean as something where you throw water into the ocean and it sinks to the bottom, where it will decay and eventually break down into what can only be assumed to believe as some kind of nutrient content, something studies have already proven to be untrue.  As Moore described, the plastic debris has a buoyancy that allows it to float, and to accumulate in zones where water remains calmer.  This aspect also allows it travel around the world and to accumulate on civilized and remote beaches around the world.  In his interview with Neil Greenberg, Moore expanded on the impact of the waste debris in the ocean: “Really, it is an uncontrolled experiment in the release of chemicals into the biosphere that is coming back to haunt us. All our conveniences and all our modern technologies have a downside. We really are on such a treadmill of production of new products, and the population is so accustomed to this treadmill, that they are willing to sacrifice life expectancy and health for the affluence of modern society.” (Greenberg, 2009) These chemicals are appearing with each study conducted, the impact of the plastics and the chemicals they carry within are showing up in all species of life. F. Plastic Soup The first evidence of a ‘plastic soup’ was found in the Pacific Gyre.  After the evidence of this was first reported, scholastic efforts began to discover the level of persistency of plastic in the ocean.  The expeditions that came from the discoveries of early scientists led to some amazing and horrible relizartions.  The future of scientific study regarding the impact of plastic will terminate upon the mass extinction of life in the oceans.  To be clear, plastic will not be the sole contributor to mass extinction of biospheres within the ocean.  Plastics, and the chemicals they leach into the ocean, are however already proving to be a significant contributor.  To date, science points to the excretion of toxic chemicals as being a significant contaminant to all stages of insect, fish and bird life.  Because of work by entities like Captain Charles Moore, Marcus Erickson, Stiv Wilson and many others, it became apparent that the problem was greater than was believed.  The 5 GyresInstitute’s website provides some of the most interesting data, as a series of reports from various studies that have been sponsored or cosponsored.   as can , and many would consider it the least known tragedy of the 20th century.   Plastic has permeated all of the planets 5 primary oceanic current systems, known as gyres.  In every major ocean on our planet, scientists, explorers, villagers and concerned citizens all understand one simple thing – plasticpollution has become a catastrophic concern.  The persistency of this man made material has traveled the globe, and it impacts are just becoming to be visible.  (Moore, 2001) In the Pacific Gyre itself, the size and span of the plastic soup has been “described as being twice the size of Texas.”  To put this in perspective the size of Texas is known to be about 268,601 square miles.  In other words the ‘effective size’ of the Pacific Gyre is over ½ a million square miles.  With a swath of pollution like this, many people have asked how such a space of pollution has been allowed to accumulate without a level of awareness that forced changes including the active remediation of the mess.  With the technology available in today’s society, aren’t there methods that would make this a non issue? Unfortunately, the results of scientific examination provide real insights regarding these plastics.  A report on sampling of the North Pacific Gyre from 1985 -1988 reported that “during sorting,individual pieces of plastic were counted and identified as one of six standardized types: pellet, fragment, Styrofoam (which may include foamed plastics of other chemical composition), polypropylene line (which may include synthetic line of other chemical composition), miscellaneous or unidentified line, and miscellaneous or unidentified plastic. ( Day, 1990). This study, along with many others over the last 40 years have continued to prove that plastics are becoming a greater and greater presence in the ocean.    G. Death By Plastic Plastic is proven to kill life at all levels of ecosystems.  From mites and fish to birds and four legged animals, plastic pollution is actively causing extensive damages to life in systems across the planet.  In addition to the chemical contamination that leaches from plastic, the direct consumption of the material is being studied extensively. Studies are finding that in addition to large toxic In April of 2014, a published study by Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania found that “16 percent of the hatchlings ( Freshwater Seafarers) received plastic upon the first feeding.  This is well above international targets.” Besides the leaching of chemicals into new and growing bodies, the levels of plastics in the bodies of these animals takes up space in the stomach that reduces the ability to consume nutrients, causing the Freshwater Seafarers to have weakened organs and bone structures, along with heavy metals contamination (Lavers, 2014).  On MidwayIsland, a natural scientific preserve, the rate of drift plastic that impacts the island at a catastrophic rate.  Of the 500,000 albatross chicks born here each year, about 200,000 die,mostly from dehydration or starvation.  The amount of plastic found among the carcases indicate a wide spectrum of materials being consumed. This expectancy has given support to concerns that animals are receiving toxicity from the plastics they consume as: heavy metals, BPA and other chemicals impact the structure, immunity and overall health of animals.  (Eidt, 2012). In a news article from South Africa, a baby kongoni or Hartebeest – a type of deer or antelope, is described to watch it’s mother die after eating a piece of plastic.  The news story discusses the dangers of plastic pollution on the life of herds that meander into the accumulating pollution and are unable to differentiate the difference between plastic and food (Jones, 2013). IV. Sustainable Solutions: Reduce, Re-innovate, Remediate Individually these factors could be looked at as localized problems.  Instead, scientists around the globe are finding these problems are compounding upon themselves.  Marcus Erickson, in a personal interview in August of 2013, argued that cleaning the ocean isn’t the solution.  His argument focuses around the idea that the majority of plastic debris in the ocean, is calculated to derive as disposed wasted from land based sources, not oceanic vessels. (Russo,2010). While it is indeed known that plastics, as a man made material have made their way into the farthest reaches of the plant, what is not known are the solutions to remediate this ecological disaster.  In truth there have been some scientists who have theorized and begun to devise methods upon which to conceptually describe or begin remediation of this, on of the plants greatest unnatural disasters.  In a news report by Discovery, it is reported that Stiv Wilson of 5 gyres described one such example; “Wilson divides by a “supertanker” — that is, a giant ship that could theoretically sail through the seas, skimming out the plastic junk as it goes (much of which hovers down to 90 feet below the surface).  No such ship has been outfitted to skim plastic. But let’s say it did, and it could hold 500 million pounds of plastic. You’d need 630 of them to do the job, or about 17 percent of the planet’s current fleet of oil tanker” That’s a lot of plastic.  According to Stiv’s representation, there are over 150 billion tons of plastic floating in the ocean (Reilly, 2014).  It is easy to guess that this doesn’t count for all the additionalwaste in gulfs, inlets, estuaries, and beaches around the globe. While Stiv’s concept ship is theoretical, it provides an image of the quantity of waste that is currently in our oceans and provides one possible direction to the solution to the problem.  Erickson, Wilson and countless other scientists from a wide range of studies point to the number one solution, curbing consumption.  In the Americas, as well as many parts of the world, consumption and waste go hand in hand.  However this consumption often occurs without considering energy costs, resource materials and management as part of a closed loop process.  To solve the problem of polluted oceans, lakes and inland waterways – the examination of consumption must become the number one solution.  As, Flannery surmises in The Weather Makers,  “We have passed the point where consumption has exceeded ready supply and anticipated discovery of additional deposits.” (Flannery, 2006)  This provides hope that consumption practices will become directed at long term sustainability as prices for materials continue to rise. In addition to the promotion and education of responsible practices, other solutions must be considered.  On a daily basis, there are people who walk beachfronts in populated areas to remediate the impact of plastic.  Generally the purpose behind such remediation is visual, and a deterrent to the image of paradise that resorts, and coastal communities strive to maintain.  Additionally, there are the efforts of beachcombing organizations founded in communities where space is established for the public good.  Unfortunately, this remediation does not occur everywhere on our planet.  In the locations where it does occur, the plastics have one of two destinations – the recycling plant or the landfill.  Unfortunately, because plastics recycling facilities and practices are not universal due to the generally nature of the debris collected, most of the materials are destined for the landfill. This leads to the second basis of efforts to remediate the impact of plastic in our oceans, improve infrastructure.  In The Weather Makers, Flannery expounds that “100% of sustainable systems meet capacity upon development.” (Flannery, 2006)  In essence, as each piece of equipment or factory setting is established to divert, reclaim and reuse the materials and prevent them from a final life in the landfill – the facility will operate at 100% capacity based on operational efficiencies.  Every place a single stream recycling facility is built, it will have more materials to process than it can manage to process effectively, thus leading to some mechanism of loss.  Effective infrastructure can include, for plastics: single stream diversion centers, waste stream reclamation processes, and plasticspyrolysis facilities to reclaim the oil from the plastics. In covering one process being focused on by Shell Oil company; “Natural gas may be converted to synthesis gas (or ‘syngas’) which is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Syngas may be converted to a solid or liquid synthetic fuel (‘synfuel’) or converted to methanol, oxo-alcohols or DME.” (Energy Weekly News, 2013) The continued research will surely develop more uses for the syngas derived from reclaimed plastic as the development of infrastructure to reclaim these plastics continues. Fortunately, there is sufficient development in each of these individual technologies to recommend their combination. This expands the theoretical processes to consider the direct impact of physical remediation.  These factors include: leachate poisoning of oceanic waters, mitigation of losses in survival rates in both ocean plastics in aquatic and land based animals, as well as developing momentum for innovation. This includes contemplated and physical efforts to  provide methodologies for direct remediation and the processing of collected materials.  While there are many examples of scientists examining the impact of plastic there are few who can be found exploring remediationsolutions.   One such person is Boyan Slat.  His presentation as part of the Ted Talks platform provides what many consider to be a rosy examination on the remediation of plasticpollution.  In his viewpoint, creating a series of sieves, would allow for the capture of plastics in the ocean with a limited risk for capture and kill of animals by utilizing the natural currents of the ocean to clean itself.  It is an interesting proposition with a future worth watching.  Unfortunately,  this does not address the large portions of debris that has found its way to beach fronts.  As an example of innovation and solutions based representation, it points the way toward an active solutions based processes (Slat, 2013). It is feasible to combine a series of existing technologies and  develop an ocean vessel that allows for direct capture and conversion of these plastics  back into syngas, a liquid oil byproduct of pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is a scientific and chemical process that takes plastic and heats it in an oxygen free environment that allows for the separation of liquid and gaseous products based on the original components of the plastics.  The captured gases are usable for a variety of industrial purposes, including energy generation. For the liquid syngas byproduct, a multiple of proven uses exist.  These include refining for motor oils and lubricants, new plastics and fuels.  Evidence of these uses and ever expanding efforts by the oil industry to find a use for converted plastic syngas can be found by examination of patent applications. A sample flowchart for this process has been provided in the Appendix.   While some would consider the burning of reclaimed oils of plastics and ideal use; a properly equipped system could produce surplus fuel for maintaining the efforts of remediation in remote places.  The level of impact are always based on the operational efficiencies, necessity, it is said is the mother of invention.  Today, our planetary needs show a wide array of such needs and the level of plastic in the ocean may be one of the greatest of all.  By beginning the process of remediation, the impacts of these plastics can be reclaimed while terminating their continued  process of eliminating poisons into the ecology. V.  Conclusion When it comes to plasticpollution in the oceans, the one thing that is clear – the problem is real.  It is best that is that we cannot consider “No Action” as an negative alternative that would present itself as a totally negative impact.  It is a proven fact that plastics leach chemicals into the water, break down into smaller pieces of themselves and become food for life at all levels within a biosphere.  These are not theoretical concerns, they are occurring in the present day.   As the scientific community continues to examine the levels of contamination, greater impacts are sure to come to light.  The impacts of heavy metals contamination, increasing death rates and sterility rates, and the discovery of new populations experiencing the impacts of human pollution are all going to become a regular and consistent occurrence.  Increasing the efficiency of waste collection systems is only one of many technical solutions needed to solve this growing concern.  To effectively remediate the problem, step one is the termination of source contaminates.  To resolve the many concerns plasticpollution brings to our planet, we must first learn how to consume in a healthy manner.  Efforts to regulate consumption have historically failed over the history of mankind.  With the lack of any foreseeable changes in human consumption patterns, or in the manner of materials production; direct remediation becomes the only viable solution.  Based on historical consumption patterns, the time to prepare and enact remediation policies is in the here and now. Bibliography   Artham, Trishul, and Mukesh Doble. “Bisphenol A and Metabolites Released by Biodegradation of Polycarbonate in Seawater.” Environmental Chemistry Letters 10.1 (2012): 29-34. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. Bottenus, Tyson. “Plastics in the Ocean.” Marine Link. Maritime Reporter, 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. Boyan Slat at TEDxYouth@Delft. Perf. Boyan Slat. 2013. Tedx. Web. 04 Mar. 2014. Clendenon, Cindy, and William A. Atkins. “Pollution of the Ocean by Sewage, Nutrients, and Chemicals.” Water Encyclopedia. N.p., 2009. Web. 08 Apr. 2014. Eidt, Jack. “Midway Atoll: The Plastic Plight of the Albatross | Pacific Voyagers.” Pacific Voyagers. Pacific Voyagers Foundation, 25o Oct. 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. Erickson, Britt E. “Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins – Researchers Combine Education and Outdoor Adventure to Help Combat Plastic Pollution.” Millennium Web Catalog. Chemical & Engineering News, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 04 Apr. 2014. Everts, Sarah. “Chemicals Leach from Packaging.” Chemical & Engineering News. Millennium Web Catalog, 31 Aug. 2009. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. Day, Robert H., David G. Shaw, and Steven E. Ignell. “The Quantitative Distribution and Characteristics of Neuston Plastic in the North Pacific Ocean, 1985-1988.” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Marine Debris, 2-7 April 1989, Honolulu, Hawaii. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memo., NMFS, NOAA-TM-NMFS-SWFSC-154. (1990): 247-66. Print. GTLPETROL LLC; Patent Issued for Process and Apparatus for the Production of Synthesis Gas.” Energy Weekly News. (March 15, 2013 ): 3057 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2014/05/01. Flannery, Tim F. The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth. New York: Grove, 2006. Print Greenburg, Neil. “Captain Charles Moore | Earth Island Journal | Earth Island Institute.” Captain Charles Moore | Earth Island Journal | Earth Island Institute. Earth Island Institute, Spring 2009. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. Grant, Richard. “Plastic Debris Is Polluting the World’s Oceans.” Pollution. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Drowning in Plastic.” Telegraph 24 Apr. 2009. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 4 Apr. 2014. GESAMP. Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection. Proceedings of the GESAMP International Workship on Microplastic Particles as a Vector in Transporting Persistent, Bioaccumulating and Toxic Substances in the Ocean. Ed. Tim Bowmer and Peter Kershaw. Final: Pre-publication Copy ed. Vol. 82. Paris: UNESCO -IOC, 2010. Proceedings of the GESAMP Workshop on Microplastic Particles. GESAMP. Web. 04 Feb. 2014. Holdsworth, Ian. “Cast Phenolic Resin.” The Plastics Historical Society –. Ed. Allan Wells andVikram Mansukhani. Sponsored in Memory of Dr. Tony Challis by Roy L. Manns, 2011. Web. 07 Apr. 2014 Lavers Jennifer L,  Bond Alexander L., Hutton Ian , Plastic ingestion by Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes): Implications for fledgling body condition and the accumulation of plastic-derived chemicals, Environmental Pollution, Volume 187, April 2014, Pages 124-129, Lyons, G., 2000. WWF European Toxics Programmed Report, pp. 1–37. Lockwood, Deirdre. “Ocean Plastics Soak Up Pollutants.” Chemical and Engineering News (2012): n. pag. Millennium Web Catalog. 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2014. Michael J. Kennish (2002). Environmental threats and environmental future of estuaries.   Environmental Conservation, , pp 78-107. doi:10.1017/S0376892902000061. Morgan, John. “The Plastics Historical Society – Hyatt.” The Plastics Historical Society –. Ed. Allan Wells and Vikram Mansukhani. Sponsored in Memory of Dr. Tony Challis by Roy L. Manns, 2011. Web. 07 Apr. 2014 National Research Council. “Asbestos: Selected Cancers.” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006. “Plastics, Common Wastes & Materials.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 28 Feb. 2014. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. <http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/plastics.htm>. “Primus Green Energy Patent Application for Gas-to-Liquids Technology Allowed by USPTO.” Global Data News 5 Feb. 2014. Business Insights: Essentials. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. Reilly, Michael. “How Much Plastic Is in the Ocean?” DNews. Discovery Channel, n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2014. Rios, Lorena M., Charles Moore, and Patrick R. Jones. “Persistent Organic Pollutants Carried by Synthetic Polymers in the Ocean Environment.” Marine Pollution Bulletin 54.8 (2007): 1230-237. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. Rios, L. M., Jones, P. R., Moore, C., & Narayan, U. V. (2010). Quantitation of persistent organic pollutants adsorbed on plastic debris from the northern pacific gyre’s “eastern garbage patch”. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 12(12), 2226-2236. Rochman, Chelsea, Eunha Hoh, Brian T. Hentschel, and Shawn Kaye. “Long-Term Field Measurement of Sorption of Organic Contaminants to Five Types of Plastic Pellets: Implications for Plastic Marine Debris.” Environmental Science and Technology. ACS Publications, 27 Dec. 2012. Web. 8 Apr. 2014. Royte, Elizabeth. “Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of New York’s Trash.” Lost Magazine. N.p.,Mar. 2008. Web. 07 Apr. 2014. Russo, Daniella. “Eliminating Disposable Plastic Will Decrease Waste.” Garbage and Recycling. Ed. Margaret Haerens. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “The Other, Bigger ‘Oil Spill’: Your Use of Disposable Plastic.” Christian Science Monitor (17 June 2010). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 4 Mar. 2014. Zhou, Jin, Xiao-Shan Zhu, and Zhong-Hua Cai. “The Impacts of Bisphenol A (BPA) on Abalone (Haliotis Diversicolor Supertexta) Embryonic Development.” Chemosphere 82.3 (2011): 443-50. Web. Appendix: https://i2.wp.com/www.wasterecycleplant.com/Pyrolysis-Fuel-Renewable-Eq.jpg http://www.wasterecycleplant.com/Pyrolysis-Fuel-Renewable-Eq.jpg

One thought on “Oceanic Plastic Pollution , a case for Remediation”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s