Each year over 14 million tons of discarded plastic waste goes into oceans around the world. Tons of garbage made up of large amounts of plastic washed up on the coast of Jakarta, Indonesia. Plastic waste has been discovered in distant places such as the Pyrenees mountains and the ocean depths of the Mariana Trench. Approximately half of the plastic in our oceans and landfills are from “single-use” objects such as water bottles and straws enter the sea in the same year of their production. Plastics are not just polluting our oceans but also found in human feces.
Xiaoguang Duan is a co-author of a recent study on how mini magnetic coils can break down harmful plastic waste in our oceans. Duan and his team developed microscopic nanotubes composed of carbon called nano-coils. These nano-coils are coated with nitrogen and manganese, which combine to form highly reactive oxygen that attacks plastic in the ocean. The result turns the plastics into salt compounds, carbon dioxide, and water that doesn’t cause harm to the ocean.
The team of scientists observed the process for eight hours and saw a 30-50% reduction in microplastic waste. They successfully removed the nano-coils from the ocean. Other scientists and environmentalists are studying safe and effective ways to rid our oceans of non biodegradable refuse. Plastic waste causes severe health problems for marine life, including tumors, limb and organ damage. Studies like the nano-coils may be successful in potentially reducing the amount of waste; however targeting the reduction of single-use of plastic would be most effective.
The harmful effects of plastics in our oceans are more than previously thought. Previous reports suggested that it was just turtles harmed by synthetic debris. Most recent studies are proving more sea life, such as birds and crustaceans are also injured or killed from ingesting plastics. Thankfully, science is showing us the potential for success in removing harmful synthetics from our oceans without causing further harm to marine life.