A little outside of my usual wheelhouse, but a VERY important analysis of why “cleaning up” the ocean plastics problem represents a misunderstanding–and possible worsening!– of the problem in the first place.

Discard Studies

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The Ocean Cleanup array, designed to clean plastics from the ocean like a baleen whale, is one of these good intentions: experts in marine plastics, including myself, say it’s a bad idea.Technological fixes like the Array do harm to the larger project of ending plastic pollution, which is a complex social, environmental, and economic problem. It is also going to damage and kill marine life.

The Array prototype is a 2 kilometer floating boom with a skirt that collects plastics, then sends them through a spinning centrifuge to get rid of water and non-plastics, then finally onto a platform for storage and eventual shipping. It’s set to launch between Korea and Japan in 2016. The idea is immensely popular and every few months since it’s inception several years ago, makes the rounds on social media and news. And every time, experts in…

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