On this particular Earth Day, it’s most important for “civilised” people like ourselves to take note of evils we don’t see everyday, yet affect us on a daily basis.
The North Pacific Trash Gyre is one of those out of sight, out of mind evils that we cause chronic health ailments in everyone who enjoys seafood and every living creature who has ever lived off the Northern Pacific Gyre as a food source.
Consider the food chain wherein pets, farm animals, livestock, and agricultural products are fed seafood by-products from this hideous trash pool. We may not be able to see it very clearly, but there’s no way of escaping from it.
Below is a recent article written for Good Times Weekly, Santa Cruz, California, of which I provide an extract. On this Earth Day, it’s important for us to consider the consequences of our attitudes and actions when using throw away plastics.
The Return-on-Investment just doesn’t add up. No matter how cheap the plastic product is to make or recycle, the toll on life for this entire planet is just too great. A decadent, “throw away” culture is simply not sustainable – on any planet.
Written by Amanda Martinez
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Trash twice the size of the continental United States is collecting in the North Pacific, but here’s the kicker: most of it is made to last forever.
One sunny day 10 years ago, Captain Charles Moore was sailing home from a yacht race in Hawaii when he steered his boat off-course in search of a little adventure in the North Pacific. Heading north in his 50-foot catamaran, Alguita, Moore wanted to graze the lower Eastern corner of a rarely sailed region, the North Pacific subtropical gyre, before making his way home to Long Beach, California.
The most remarkable characteristic of the gyre, a 10-million-square-foot, clockwise-churning vortex of four converging ocean currents, was supposed to be its unique weather pattern. It’s a high-pressure area, meaning that warm air hovers over it. The air is still. There’s no wind. Picture an immense oceanic desert. Frustrated sailors long ago christened the area “the doldrums” and avoided it, as do predatory fish who find no prey within its calm, nutrient-lean depths. “It almost looks like an oil slick, or like a mirror. It’s really beautiful, the phenomena of a very smooth ocean,” says researcher Dr. Marcus Eriksen.
But as Moore ventured into the gyre, his fascination with weather patterns gave way to a different reaction-alarm. In this most remote part of the ocean, his expectation of the pristine was met by blight. A vast array of trash-bottle caps, plastic bottles, fishing floats, wrappers, plastic bags and fragments, many tiny plastic fragments-stretched before Moore as far as the eye could see. His alarm turned to shock. It took him a week to sail through the gyre, the debris surrounding his boat the entire time. (continue…)
For more information on the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, visit algalita.org.
WATCH VIDEO: Algalita Marine Research Foundation’s Our Synthetic Sea
To watch Save Our Shore’s video on the July 5, 2007 cleanup, visit gtweekly.com. To find out more about volunteering for Santa Cruz’s CCD or July 5, 2008 cleanup, visit saveourshores.org or call 408-462-5660. To contact Aqua Safaris SCUBA Center, go to aquasafaris.com or call 479-4386.
Related Articles and Blogs:
Trashed Across the Pacific Ocean, plastics, plastics, everywhere. (Charles Moore)
Method of Detecting Plastic in Solution
The Tyndall effect is the effect of light scattering on particles in colloid systems, such as suspensions or emulsions. It is named after the 19th century Irish scientist John Tyndall. The Tyndall effect is used to tell the difference between the different types of mixtures, namely solution, colloid, and suspension. For example, the Tyndall effect is noticeable when car headlamps are used in fog.
The light with shorter wavelengths scatters better, thus the color of scattered light has a bluish tint. This is also the reason why the sky looks blue when viewed away from the sun: the blue light from the sun is scattered to a greater degree and is therefore visible far from its source. This effect occurs because short wavelengths of light towards the blue end of the spectrum hit the air molecules in the earth’s atmosphere and are reflected down to the earth’s surface. Longer wavelengths towards the red end of the spectrum are less affected by the particles and pass on through the earth’s atmosphere.
Penetrating Radar (PenRad), technology invented by Stanford Research Institute, should have the sensitivity for detecting these shorter wavelengths and beyond into the ultraviolet range within the North Pacific Gyre’s plastic soup.
PenRad could probably take excellent satellite videos as well as stills of the trash gyre at any depth. The question remains: Is SRI willing to devote their equipment to finding evidence to implicate industries that hinge on their own (plastic, waste disposal, etc.)?
On the other hand, If you decide to take a sailing trip to the doldrums (please don’t tell me you’re taking one of those nasty cruise ships spilling garbage every where), you can have your digital camera converted at Life Pixel to receive the ultra violet spectrum. You can get your own evidence.
The Polymer Energy™ system turns waste plastic into energy. It is designed to primarily process polyolefins i.e. polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).
The Polymer Energy™ system is robust by design, and can easily handle plastic that is contaminated with other kinds of waste such as metals, glass, dirt, water, etc. The system can tolerate up to 30% of other waste in the input plastic waste stream. As a result, a key advantage of this process is that the plastic wastes do not need to be pre-sorted, cleaned or dried prior to processing, which in turn significantly reduces the overall cost of operation.
Polymer Energy™ offers a viable, economical and environmentally responsible alternative to current methods of recycling and disposal of plastic waste. The Polymer Energy™ system uses catalytic pyrolysis to efficiently convert plastics (primarily polyolefins) into crude oil.
Polymer Energy, LLC
4201 Woodland Road, P.O. Box 69
Circle Pines, MN 55014 U.S.A.
Phone: +1 (763) 225-6907
Fax: +1 (763) 225-6645
The only problem remains with the other type of disposable plastics. Let’s have a close look at this stubject by examining the plastics acceptable for the polymer energy conversion system:The plastics waste fed into the system should adhere to the following guidelines:
Acceptable within certain limits
Varies depending upon type of plastic
OK, it looks like #3, #6, and, perhaps, #7 disposable plastics are the troublemakers. Let’s take a closer look at their application and composition as extracted from the following article: Plastic Containers – What to look for
Here’s a quick breakdown of plastic resin types:
#1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
Product examples: Disposable soft drink and water bottles, cough-syrup bottles
#2 high density polyethylene (HDPE)/
Product examples: Milk jugs, toys, liquid detergent bottles, shampoo bottles
#3 polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC)
Product examples: Meat wrap, cooking oil bottles, plumbing pipes
#4 low density polyethylene (LDPE)
Product examples: Cling wrap, grocery bags, sandwich bags
#5 polypropylene (PP)
Product examples: Syrup bottles, yogurt cups/tubs, diapers
#6 polystyrene (PS)
Product examples: Disposable coffee cups, clam-shell take-out containers
#7 other (misc.; usually polycarbonate, or PC, but also polylactide, or PLA, plastics made from renewable resources – renewable meaning plant based)
Product examples: Baby bottles, some reusable water bottles, stain-resistant food-storage containers, medical storage containers (to be fair, #7 should have been subdivided into further categories like #8 plastics since it contains more than one category of plastic of which polyactides are the safest)
It just so happens that #3 polyvinyl chloride, #6 polystyrene, and #7 polyactide are photosensitive, therefore, easiest to decompose into the plastic soup that makes up the North Pacific Trash Gyre.
Fortunately, polyactides are made from corn, potatoes, sugar cane and anything else with a high starch content rather than all the petroleum based plastics as state above – and was created to decompose quickly and safely. Therefore, #3 and #6 plastics are still the biggest troublemakers even when instituting the polymer energy conversion program.
Please read Plastic Containers in full because it contains necessary public health hazard warnings. Here is a further extract:
Plastics to Avoid
#3 polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is often used frequently in cling wraps for meat. However, PVC contains softeners called phthalates that interfere with hormonal development, and its manufacture and incineration release dioxin, a potent carcinogen and hormone disruptor. Vinyl chloride, the primary building block of PVC, is a known human carcinogen that also poses a threat to workers during manufacture.
Extruded polystyrene (#6 PS; commonly known as Styrofoam) is used in take-out containers and cups, and non-extruded PS is used in clear disposable takeout containers, disposable plastic cutlery and cups. Both forms of PS can leach styrene into food; styrene is considered a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It may also disrupt hormones or affect reproduction.
#7 Polycarbonate (PC) is found in baby bottles, 5-gallon water bottles, water-cooler bottles and the epoxy linings of tin food cans. PC is composed of a hormone-disrupting chemical called bisphenol A, which has been linked to a wide variety of problems such as cancer and obesity.
Please also show your support for renewable energy companies like Polymer Energy
Thanks for your time,
Randolph Fabian Directo
P.S. I couldn’t help but notice that this is the most visited post. Therefore, I’m going to take advantage by posting further ideas for a sustainable society. Let’s reclaim find ways to reclaim our so-called “trash” to make it useful. There are so many ideas out there for reclaiming trash, yet the gov’t is not taking proper advantage.
I’m hoping that you can help spread the word and show your interest in these recycling methods that I’m going to post here on a regular basis. Below, I am including bookmarking links and a link to your local gov’t representatives, so you can query them about these amazing technologies that would truly advance human society and make this world a safer, healthier place to live.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Creating Ethanol from Trash
Researchers find a way to make liquid fuels from waste cheaply and without the pollution produced by earlier methods.
|This nondescript piece of equipment can transform waste into a combustible gas, which can then be converted into ethanol.
Credit: Integrated Environmental Technologies, LLC
A new system for converting trash into ethanol and methanol could help reduce the amount of waste piling up in landfills while displacing a large fraction of the fossil fuels used to power vehicles in the United States.
The technology, developed originally by researchers at MIT and at Batelle Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL), in Richland, WA, doesn’t incinerate refuse, so it doesn’t produce the pollutants that have historically plagued efforts to convert waste into energy. Instead, the technology vaporizes organic materials to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide, a mixture called synthesis gas, or syngas, that can be used to synthesize a wide variety of fuels and chemicals. The technology has been further developed and commercialized by a spinoff called Integrated Environmental Technologies (IET), also based in Richland, WA. In addition to processing municipal waste, the technology can be used to create ethanol out of agricultural biomass waste, providing a potentially less expensive way to make ethanol than current corn-based plants… (BINGO!)
Instead of messing with our food supply by planting biofuel oriented corn fields, just recycle the trash that we’re putting out by the billions of tons everyday with this less expensive method! What more could we ask for? Please continue reading this article at Technology Review.
Stay tuned for more innovative ways of keeping trash out of the Pacific Ocean and keeping this planet healthy!
February 1, 2007
Scientists develop portable generator that turns trash into electricity
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
A group of scientists have created a portable refinery that efficiently converts food, paper and plastic trash into electricity. The machine, designed for the U.S. military, would allow soldiers in the field to convert waste into power and could have widespread civilian applications in the future.”This is a very promising technology,” said Michael Ladisch, the professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue University who leads the project. “In a very short time it should be ready for use in the military, and I think it could be used outside the military shortly thereafter.”
The “tactical biorefinery” processes several kinds of waste at once, which it converts into fuel via two parallel processes. The system then burns the different fuels in a diesel engine to power a generator. Ladisch said the machine’s ability to burn multiple fuels at once, along with its mobility, make it unique.
Roughly the size a small moving van, the biorefinery could alleviate the expense and potential danger associated with transporting waste and fuel. Also, by eliminating garbage remnants – known in the military as a unit’s “signature” – it could protect the unit’s security by destroying clues that such refuse could provide to enemies… (Continue reading this article at Purdue.)
(Notice that statement I put in bold? This technology has even more useful applications for us civilians by removing that risk of transporting trash in the Pacific. We can effectively stop the evil happening in the North Pacific RIGHT NOW by using this technology.
Are we putting the men with the garbage scows out of business? Yes. We just have to put them in jobs where they have less potential of doing harm. Up until now, we’ve been trusting filthy, lazy people with the transportation of garbage across the Pacific. Look at what we have now. It’s time to change – for the better.)
The Prophet of Garbage
Joseph Longo’s Plasma Converter turns our most vile and toxic trash into clean energy-and promises to make a relic of the landfill
By Michael Behar Posted 03.01.2007 at 3:00 am
The Plasma Converter (at Popular Science) :John B. Carnett
“The entire thing takes up about as much space as a two-car garage, surprisingly compact for a machine that can consume nearly any type of waste—from dirty diapers to chemical weapons—by annihilating toxic materials in a process as old as the universe itself…” Yet another high energy, super efficient plasma solution to eliminating waste.
Xogen Technology Purifies Waste Water
Xogen Technologies Inc. is developing a technology for the treatment of wastewater, producing energy in the process.
This technology has the potential to revolutionize the industry’s approach to wastewater treatment by vastly reducing the footprint of treatment plants, eliminating most of the conventional unit processes, eliminating the production of biosolids and simultaneously producing a byproduct, oxyhydrogen gas, for reuse as an energy source.
Xogen’s patented technology uniquely splits the water molecule into a 2 to 1 mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas with 9 times less electrical current than is predicted by standard laws of electrolysis.
Electrolysis process resembles Brown’s gas (common-ducted Hydrogen and Oxygen with unusual burning properties)…
I don’t know how long the electrodes would hold up to seawater, but this might be a solution to cleaning up the filth in the North Pacific Trash Gyre. If it can handle industrial garbage water, why not sea water with molecule sized plastic? We’ll see…
Landfill alternative to generate energy
A Michigan company could become the first in the nation to generate electricity by incinerating waste, thereby reducing the need for landfills.
SunCrest Energy, based in southwest Michigan, wants to build a facility that would incinerate trash at more than 10,000 degrees, converting it to synthetic gas that would power electricity-generating turbines.
The facility would make Michigan a leader in clean energyand alleviate landfill burdens from trash imported from Canada. The plant could be operational within two-years, the Detroit Free Press reported… (more at PhysOrg)
Canada? Don’t we have enought of our own trash? All other states could be following Michigan’s lead if they also have recycling program. Speaking of recycling programs, stay tuned…
June 19, 2008 4:00 AM PDT
Trash-fed generator deployed in Iraq
Saving on fuel isn’t a question of conservation for the military. It’s about saving lives.
The U.S. Army is testing two prototype generators in Iraq that run on garbage, rather than diesel fuel.
The Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery (TGER, pronounced “tiger”), was co-developed with Purdue University and deployed in May at Victory Base camp in Baghdad, where it will be tested until August.
A waste-to-energy generator being tested by the U.S. military in Iraq.
The purpose of the unit is to cut down on the amount of diesel fuel used and to cut down on the amount of garbage that camps generate, which are both security risks.
“Those convoys that carry fuel are also known as targets,” said James Valdes, scientific adviser for biotechnology at the U.S. Army Research, Development & Engineering Command. “Officers say ‘We don’t calculate the cost of fuel in dollars, we calculate it in blood.’”
Handling garbage is a logistical challenge, too, because the Army hires contractors who need to be followed.
Right now, the Army’s trash goes up in smoke by burning it. The problem with incinerators, though, is that they require a lot of energy to run and many people to operate it.
TGER uses a variety of technologies to fuel a standard 60-kilowatt electrical generator.
People put trash into a chute and then the wet waste–like food slop–is separated from the rest. The cardboard, plastic, and other dry trash are crushed and pelletized.
Those pellets are then put into a gasifier, which heats them until they turn into synthetic gas–fuel for the generator… (Once again, us civilians are left out when it comes to advanced energy technology in converting our trash for a sustainable society. Read the rest at CNET)
PowerMaster ReCyclone Transforms Garbage Into Energy
It’s a clean way to get rid of garbage. New technology created by PowerMaster Environmental Group takes ordinary trash and turns it into energy and reusable power sources like diesel fuel.
The PowerMaster ReCyclone™ acts like the wind inside a tornado, grinding garbage into tiny pieces and shrinking the need for extra landfill space. Not only does the grinder reduce landfill space by up the 97%, but it is a key component in converting waste into energy.
PowerMaster ReCyclone™ technology reduces waste in landfills, turns waste into energy, and recycles waste products. Trash becomes electricity or a variety of compost material, organic waste becomes diesel, and plastic turns into oil.
“This is the newest way to go green because it extends the life of landfills,” says Lila York of PowerMaster Environmental Group, which manufactures the PowerMaster ReCyclone™.
“Plus, the PowerMaster ReCyclone™ can be completely customized for any business or any facility to reduce their waste into a renewable source. The Processor is so versatile it can grind almost any waste except case-hardened steel,” says York.
PowerMaster has identified more than 17 vertical markets including waste to energy, landfill reduction, disaster cleanup, factory seconds, and recycling of almost all material. In addition to shredders, the company offers complete turn-key operations… (I don’t know if that conversion process can include plastics, but it sure takes the load off landfills. How many more examples do we need before we realize that we have the technology NOW to keep this world clean and sustainable? Tell your crackhead congressman!)
Dear Californians,Nothing that is used once should remain hanging around for 500 years. Yet this is how long it take for (#6 PS) Styrofoam to break down — and at sea it may never biodegrade
.I hate it when I want my favorite treat, but I know buying it involves using a styrofoam container for 20 minutes that could float around in the ocean for hundreds of years. No one should have to make that choice, especially when there are biodegradable alternatives.There is measure in Legislature right now to ban single-use Styrofoam containers. E-mail the governator today and tell him to help pass the bill
.The ocean has more than its share of problems right now. Trash. Oil drilling. Dumping toxic waste.Environment California is launching a major effort to fight for a cleaner ocean. The first step is to stop the trash that is hurting ocean wildlife the most — plastic and Styrofoam. Together they make up 60 to 80 percent of all marine debris, and 90 percent of all floating debris
. That needs to stop. Now.
Next we’re taking on the Big Oil companies who are fighting to drill off our coast. On April 16, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be holding a hearing in San Francisco. We’re turning it into a big event — with live music and grilling. Most importantly, it will be a chance for us to stand up to schemes to drill off our coast.
We’re also taking action to stop more kinds of trash. We’re backing a measure to ban cigarette butts. We’re backing another measure to put a small fee on single-use bags so more people switch to re-usable grocery bags. Common sense stuff.
But the most important thing you can do today is take action right now to call on Gov. Schwarzenegger to ban single-use Styrofoam containers. Click on the link below:
Thanks for standing up for California,
We did it! After three years and thousands of petitions, the United Nations has officially declared June 8 as World Oceans Day.
As you know, the UN designated June 8 as World Oceans Day in 1992, but every year since then organizations, schools, aquariums and ocean advocates have unofficially celebrated that day. Now, thanks to a new resolution, the designation is official as of this year. Thanks and congratulations to all of you
who helped get the UN to listen.
It’s undeniably significant that one of the world’s most powerful governing bodies has decided to take a day to celebrate the bounty and beauty of our seas. Our hope is that this designation encourages people to appreciate all the oceans have to offer, every day of the year.
Mark June 8 as World Oceans Day on your calendar - and stay tuned for more on what we have in store for the special day.
Earth Day Savings – includes CFL’s with 75% less mercury than standard CFL’s (better to have NO mercury, but what the hell.)