Ocean plastic pollution is one of the most dire problems facing our planet
Every minute, 17 tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean, accumulating up to 10 to 12 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. Global consumption of plastic has tripled in the last 25 years and is 200 times greater than it was in 1950.
This vast amount of plastic has threatening consequences for humans and animals. Plastic take an average of 450 years to decompose in the ocean, and it never fully disappears, just breaks down into nano-waste. These particles are absorbed by marine animals and micro-organisms that form the beginning of the marine food chain, eventually making their way into the systems of humans who digest them. As a result of suffocating on plastic on ingesting this nano-waste, 100,000 marine mammals and one million marine birds die each year.
But a company called SeaCleaners is setting out to fight against plastic pollution with a new innovative ship that is designed to fight plastic pollution. Dubbed the “Giant of the Seas Against Plastic Pollution", the Manta is a giant sailboat designed to collect, treat, and repurpose large volumes of floating plastic debris.
The Manta is a sustainable machine, processing 100 percent of the waste that it collects. Powered by renewable energy, the ship propels itself by swallowing plastic waste. The Manta can collect one to three tonnes of waste per hour, with the objective of up to 10,000 tonnes per year. It also has two ships called mobulas, which go out into shallow or narrow areas, rough coastal regions, or rivers with strong currents to capture waste that the larger vessel is unable to.
But the Manta’s truly unique component is its waste-to-energy conversion unit. Macrowaste is drawn into collection carousels that are processed and sorted on board then shredded and transformed into plastic pellets. The pellets are transformed into synthetic gas, which gets passed through a turbine to turn into electricity that powers the ship.
The ship also serves as a research centre dedicated to eliminating plastic pollution, hosting a scientific mission onboard and even opening up awareness and prevention programs to the public during stopovers.
Conquering marine plastic pollution is a gigantic mission, but projects like The Manta are a swift move in the right direction.