From Ocean Elders
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental issues facing our oceans today. The Clean Oceans Project (TCOP) has developed a unique approach to solving this problem that not only removes plastic from our oceans, but transforms it into a valuable commodity; fuel.
As a result of poor or non-existent recycling and waste handling practices, millions of tons of plastic garbage find their way into the marine environment every year, profoundly altering fragile ecosystems and threatening humans at the top of the food chain. Marine mammals, birds, and fish die from ingesting or becoming entangled in this carelessly discarded trash. Plastic pollution also damages coral reefs, litters beaches, discourages tourism, poses a navigational hazard to ships, and destroys fisheries.
The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) is a slow moving spiral of ocean currents where millions of tons of floating plastic pieces of every size, shape, and color tend to congregate. The sheer size and remoteness of the affected areas coupled with the financial and technical challenges of operating in a deep-sea environment have thus far stymied remediation efforts. This problem is not isolated to the Pacific; gyres containing massive amounts of plastic trash have been discovered in each of the five major oceans of the world.
TCOP believes that research, education, and policy efforts aimed at reducing plastic pollution at its source are important components of an overall strategy for addressing the issue, but ignoring the plastic already fouling our oceans because of the challenges involved in cleaning it up is shortsighted. We have devised a unique solution that will complement these efforts by transforming this waste product into a useful and valuable resource.
TCOP has developed a targeted, multi-phase approach to achieving our goal of locating, removing, and processing ocean borne plastics into fuel. The process utilizes commercially available technology but is unique in its application, and is patent-pending. Remote sensing technology will be used to locate debris field concentrations, while collection systems developed by the oil spill response industry will harvest the debris without trapping or injuring marine animals. Our unique plastic-to-fuel technology will then generate diesel fuel from the harvested debris to power our vessels.