Understanding The Problem
And How We Plan To Solve It
Our Mission: We connect designers and manufacturers to cheap, useful forms of recycled ocean plastic so that they can easily incorporate it into their work.
Every single day 50 million pounds of plastic empty into the ocean, adding onto the 5 trillion pieces already there. We’re beginning to see this pollution creep into our water supply and our food in the form of “micro-plastics”. These materials take up to 400 years to decompose and once they break down enough, we lose track of them forever. That’s why it’s so important we act as soon as possible, this problem has a time limit.
The good news is that ocean plastic has received a lot of attention recently, companies like The Final Straw, and The Ocean Cleanup Project have alerted millions to the problem. The bad news is that not nearly enough is being done to actually stop the problem. That’s why our company’s focus is on using “economies of scale” to recycle as much of this plastic as we possibly can.
How we plan to fix the problem is by democratizing ocean plastic. We’re making ocean plastic accessible and easy to use so that anyone who wants to incorporate it into their work can with just one click. We know that we could never sell billions of ocean plastic products by ourselves, but collectively, we think the world can. We envision thousands of teams utilizing these materials in new, creative ways and, as a whole, making a huge impact on the global problem.
Initially we plan on offering pellets for manufactures, yarn for designers and artists, and, the focus of this Kickstarter, 3D printer filament, for hobbyists and professionals.
These will act as building blocks that others can depend on to make their own products from. No bulk purchases or negotiations necessary, you will be able to buy as little as 1 pound of this material and have it shipped to your door.
Our Approach To Recovery
One of our main concerns is with having a net positive impact. We want to avoid having a heavy carbon-footprint and altogether being inefficient with our recovery effort. The majority of ocean plastic can be easily prevented from ever making it into the ocean. Many of our recovery methods don’t focus directly on collecting plastic from the middle of an ocean because that’s not where most of it actually is. The most important locations are local rivers, landfills, and beaches. We’re focusing on what has been proven to work in the past like keeping costs low, working with locals as much as possible, and creating sustainable long-term progress.
The easiest way to recycle ocean plastics is to work with locals; paying them a high wage to essentially crowd-source the cleanup effort. Each of these centers can process 20,000 lbs a month. Collecting the sorted plastic from locals and then transporting it to centers that actually recycle the materials.
We are planning on constructing 61 of these collection centers in Haiti. When completed, these centers will be collecting and exporting as much plastic as Haiti imports.
One of the machines we’re currently constructing is meant to easily clean up polluted beaches. It’s essentially a modified snowblower that can scoop large amounts of sand/debris, vibrate away the sand, and catch the larger objects. Our goal for this machine is to make a low-cost and light-weight way to clear off beaches.
Understandably, many of the countries our machines will be used in will have power-constraints so we are designing them to be rechargeable and dependent on solar power.
In addition to using these ourselves, we plan on selling them to other organizations and local governments.
The other machine we’re working on is a thick rubber net that can be placed near the surface of a river/canal, straddling it. It extends 3 feet into the water and catches the majority of floating debris which would otherwise empty into the ocean. An important note is that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the river nor does it trap any animals. After the net is full, it can easily be emptied and placed back into the water within a few minutes.
Like our beach sifter, this machine will be made available to everyone.
This is our fail-safe. Utilizing small boats to drag nets behind them is not our preference, mainly because if it’s inefficiency, but sometimes it’s necessary. Particularly if there’s a patch of nets or debris off of the coast, or if there is such a build up on a particular beach that a much deeper clean of the area is needed.
Our aim is to minimize our use of these boats and focus on our other recovery methods, but we absolutely do plan on using them to ensure that no large objects float out to the open ocean.
If you would like to read more about what kind of impact our recovery will have, click here.
References & Further Reading
Brangeon, S. (2015, February). The Waste Management Practices of Aid Organisations - Case study: Haiti (Executive Summary). Retrieved from https://www.urd.org/IMG/pdf/RapportDechetsHumanitairesversion_courteENG-2.pdf
Campbell, O., Bushong, A., Gartman, D., & Bhargava, S. (2017, February). Identifying Sources of Ocean Plastics: A methodology for supply chains. Retrieved from https://i.dell.com/sites/doccontent/corporate/corp-comm/en/Documents/ocean-plastic-white-paper.pdf
Haiti Population (LIVE). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/haiti-population/
Milfort, M. (2018, April 07). Milo Milfort. Retrieved from https://haitiliberte.com/who-benefits-from-the-poor-management-of-the-truitier-landfill/
Ramase Lajan. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.haitirecycling.org/
Stephens, B. (2014, February 6). Recycling Center in Haiti - CHI. Retrieved from https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/recycling-center-in-haiti#/
Tullo, A. H. (2018, April 16). Fighting ocean plastics at the source. Retrieved from https://cen.acs.org/materials/polymers/Fighting-ocean-plastics-source/96/i16