- It is estimated that between seven and ten million tons
of floating plastic garbage are polluting and choking an area the size
of Texas in the central Pacific Ocean. This is one of several such areas
around the world, known as gyres, where ocean currents naturally concentrate
the trash. The enormity of the plastic is a seemingly insurmountable problem
because it cannot be removed and taken to land for disposal. It cannot
be incinerated due to the toxicity of the smoke. It cannot be ignored
because the plastic is being eaten by fish, birds and mammals. Others
become trapped and killed by it. The plastic will destroy the food chain.
There are six times as much floating plastic as there are plankton and
the plankton-eaters are consuming more and more plastic. A Styrofoam cup
breaks down into little white pellets that have the appearance of fish
eggs, which are swallowed by other hungry animals.
- The research, which is ongoing and was begun by Mr. Charles
Moore in 1997, has revealed a deadly nightmare for organic life. Anti-littering
campaigns may help in the future but millions of tons of plastic items
continue to be manufactured and discarded every year. Plastic does not
biodegrade. All plastic that has ever been made, that which has not been
toxically incinerated, still exists and will always exist unless it is
converted back to that whence it came.
- The floating plastic must somehow be cleaned up and there
appears to be only one practical means to do so.
- All plastic is made from petroleum products and is made
up of hydrocarbon. There is a proven process in which any hydrocarbon-based
material can be converted back to high-quality light oil by a brief application
of heat and pressure. This technology is known as Thermal Conversion Process
and has been perfected by a New York company, Changing World Technologies,
Inc. (CWT). The company has spent the past few years working with the
conversion of slaughterhouse waste products into oil and is currently adding
the conversion of plastic waste. We have approached CWT with our basic
proposal and the company has indicated an interest in participating with
- Changing World Technologies, Inc. captured our imagination
in 2003 with an article by Discovery Magazine describing their heroic method
of converting waste back into oil, which they have been doing since 1997.
- We propose, in our pilot project, to put a CWT conversion
process on a large ship, preferably with front-opening doors. The ship
would, with a wide, V-shaped catcher, plow through the infested water,
taking in the plastic waste onto conveyor belts that would feed the waste
into the converters for heating and pressurizing. The result is light,
high-quality fuel oil, some of which would be used by the ship, the bulk
of which would be transferred to tanker ships for transport to the mainland.
This fuel oil could be further refined and either sold at market price
or distributed unrefined to help families in need of home heating oil,
in addition to many other worthy programs.
- If the pilot project is successful, it would doubtless
become a popular enterprise, worthy of increasing international private
investment which would enjoy tax incentives for the greenest project imaginable
to us. Meaningful numbers of specially-built conversion ships would be
produced and employed in the several waterworld wastelands and eventually
in all polluted areas.
- The nature of plastic waste indicates that cleaning the
oceans and other waterways will be a permanent activity for the health
of the planet and the survival of not only the sea life but possibly of
humanity. We see this as the only practical, possible solution to what
researchers have come to see as a catastrophe impossible to prevent or
fix. But, quite possibly, the conversion of floating plastic waste will
provide a much needed commodity until such time that plastics are made
from biodegradable materials such as starch.
- A popular idea now is sustainability. Our proposal is
based on this idea, since the ships would sustain their own work by producing
fuel oil, obviating the costs of refueling so far from land.
- We foresee a hundred or more conversion ships working
the waste areas of the world's oceans, around the clock, year after year.
Over time, the waste areas would be cleansed. Improving technology would
allow even small particles of plastic to be strained out of the water,
but initially the grossest areas would be attacked and reduced to fuel
- The beaches of many islands are inundated with plastic
refuse. We would use smaller boats to gather and trap this trash from
shallow areas and remove it to conversion ships in deeper water for processing.
This, truly, is the only way to handle plastic pollution in water, and
on land as well, for that matter. It is said that a plastic bag or Styrofoam
cup dropped on the ground to blow in the wind will generally wind up in
the ocean, so the Thermal Conversion Process of CWT, Inc. is the only moral
and practical way to deal with any plastic waste, on land or the water.
It should not be buried and it must not be burned.
- Changing World Technologies, Inc. expects their plastic
waste Thermal Conversion Process to be online this year (2010). We would
like to install a prototype version on an LST-type ship as soon as the
converter is ready and make way for the Great Garbage Area of the Central
Pacific to begin the vital cleanup process.
- If this project interests you and you would like to become
involved with us, please ask for more information.
- Ocean Plastic
- Santa Barbara County, California
- John B. Campbell
- Robbi Skye Campbell