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Old 16-08-2016, 22:45   #1
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Beachcombers please help!

Plastic debris on pristine coasts, particularly island coasts, has been worrying sailors for decades. Now some old salts have got together and come up with a method of removing a good bit of it. We have called it the Island Plastics Project. Very briefly, it is modelled on the copra industry of days gone by and involves islanders collecting plastic from their coasts and villages and bringing it to collection points. We pick it up there, pay them or trade goods for it and transport it to a facility on the main island of the group and recycle it. The new and underlying process which makes this possible is converting plastic back to the oil it was made from using a process called Pyrolysis then distilling that oil to diesel, kerosine and gasoline. We hope the economics of this will make it a sustainable business in the long run but our trial is strictly not for profit and run by volunteer sailors.

We are still conducting a feasibility study and need information about the amount and type of plastic debris and litter present on island beaches. We hope that we can get some of the cruising community to help us gather this information while you are doing your beach combing or stretching your legs ashore. What we would like is photos of typical stretches of island shoreline of all types - windward, leeward, lagoon, village beach etc - with their lat/long then an associated photo from each of the amount of plastic debris you were able to pick up in 15 minutes. If you are able to rinse it clean then weigh it that adds more information but is not essential. Any island anywhere will add to our understanding but we are focussing on Pacific Islands for our trial.

Would anyone who is interested to help please reply to this post or my private message box.

I am happy to provide more detail (there is lots more detail!) on request and to discuss it in this thread if anyone has questions or comments.

Thanks for taking the time to read this through and think about it.
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Old 17-08-2016, 04:33   #2
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

You might reach out to mamaocean.com

They are based in the FL keys and very involved with beach plastic issues. They do weigh all the trash they collect, so maybe you could glean some Intel.
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Old 17-08-2016, 14:50   #3
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

Thanks. I will look them up. I am looking for information about island beaches and coasts and there is very little of that about. That is where I think yachties can help better than anyone else.
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Old 17-08-2016, 15:43   #4
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

I'll be glad to help, but I am only around the islands off of southern California, does that help? There are certain coves that seem to catch quite a bit floating down the coast
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Old 17-08-2016, 17:40   #5
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

Good vision but you must allow for most of the coasts being either not accessible alltogether (no landing) or too remote to collect.

You also have to think of the supply dwindling very fast.

You may be better off building a big harvester and harvesting the garbage patches - zero red tape, good access, etc.

I like your idea.

Stick with it but review the alternative methods as they pop up in such discussions.

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Old 18-08-2016, 18:42   #6
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

Thanks Don. At this stage I need data from the Pacific Islands as this is where we plan to do our trial. If I get a good response from there it would be interesting to compare the beaches near you to see if our idea can be duplicated in your area.
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Old 18-08-2016, 18:59   #7
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

Thanks Barnakiel. Yes, not all island coasts are accessible all year round so we will have to take that into account for our feasibility study. But all coasts are accessible by boat at some stage of the year and the large amounts of debris on difficult to access, trade wind windward coasts may make it worthwhile for a flotilla of local boats to collect plastic from them during the less windy seasons.

SPREP studies show each islander discards about 50 g of plastic per day, which equals about 5 tons per 100,000 people per day. Then there is the flotsam from the rest of the world. I wish it would dwindle quickly! That is our long term goal.

The coral polyps have built a cost free, maintenance free, indestructible, permanently anchored collecting mechanism already. How could we improve on that? Ocean gyres discharge about 10% of their load per annum in most cases. Much of that discharge ends up on island coasts and reefs. All we have to do is organise and reward people to collect it and take it out of the system.

Lots of people are looking at lots of alternatives, as have we. And we will continue to. But we reckon we will give this method a good look. Data collected by yachties may show it to be more or less feasible. Time will tell.

Thanks again for your thoughts. If we can't answer such positive queries the project can't succeed. Hopefully my answers are satisfactory.
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Old 18-08-2016, 19:13   #8
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

The Kenai peninsula would be an incredible picking ground .A plastic digester on a big barge operated by select incarcerated youth as the labour source. No escape and a real adventure for the participants. Government funding (corrections)should be available and the supply of plastic is phenomenal
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Old 18-08-2016, 19:17   #9
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

As for feasibility... if it is financially viable process, would it not make much greater economic sense to collect at the high density, low effort origin rather than at the remote end points? Is this being done already? Nobody thinks litter is great, but does not changing it back to fuel promote further global warming?
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Old 18-08-2016, 21:24   #10
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagan View Post
Thanks Don. At this stage I need data from the Pacific Islands as this is where we plan to do our trial. If I get a good response from there it would be interesting to compare the beaches near you to see if our idea can be duplicated in your area.
Perhaps directing energy into preventing plastics getting into the seas would be more advantageous in long run. I know Crimea and other places where there is no mentality of government to implement trash bins or hauling or fining people for failure to pack in and pack out their trash. Rubbish commonly left in piles by beach entrances. Either washed away in storms or burned sometimes.

We all know there is no simple fix, but not addressing the source will not solve problem.
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Old 19-08-2016, 08:03   #11
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

Some years ago the beaches of Thailand were covered in discarded polyethylene water bottles. I came up with the concept of a solar heated auger compresser to mix sand and chipped plastic ejecting fence posts. Even had some financial interest. Then came the tsunami. Government started a buyback recycle program .Included metal glass cardboard plastic.Became a real industry.Even the city trash trucks sort their stuff as they pick up (I think it's a supplementary income )Made a huge difference in attitude.Now the bars pack their empties on site and sea gypsies have an income now that fishing is so bad (Back in the '70's I paid my moorage and food while I built my gaff ketch Bottles/batteries/metal.It's not trash and there would be a lesser problem if messers paid up front and others followed the money
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Old 22-08-2016, 15:10   #12
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

To answer your questions;
We are working on a small enough project that we think we can complete while leaving the huge global projects to those with huge energy and resources. We are also selecting a unit of size where our project may be able to show a measurable difference and set an example for other island nations to follow. Our goal is one island nation with virtually no plastic in its surrounding ocean.

This project is not based on making a profit in a financial sense. I think we have created a problem with waste plastic and we may not be able to make money from solving that problem. Remote coats are the last refuges for many increasingly rare unspoilt ecosystems. There is huge environmental profit to be made from protecting them.

It is accepted that about 80% of plastic in coastal seas originates from onshore in that vicinity. Our project aims to collect all onshore waste plastic from one island nation at its source before it enters the sea as well as at its location of greatest impact as debris along the shore line. We can get an estimate of the onshore amounts from island authorities but we need your help to estimate the volumes of debris on the coasts.

Fuel produced by pyrolysis of waste plastic will reduce the amount of fuel which needs to be extracted by oil well drilling, shipped to refineries, refined and shipped to the islands. It therefore will reduce global CO2 emissions just a little. If conducted world wide it could reduce the need for hazardous deep sea drilling and onshore "fracking". Globally we discard more than 10 tons of plastic per 100,000 people per day!

If only all governments would do as the Thai government has done. Then we wouldn't be working on this project and would be happily sailing with a clear conscience. Well done them. I will follow up to see if we can use this as an example for island nations to follow.

Thanks all.
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Old 22-08-2016, 21:24   #13
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

A very worthy endeavor. I don't think any one solution will make much impact but coming at the problem from many angles might be the only real solution. I think your concept could be a great thing if it can self sustain financially. Good luck.
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Old 22-08-2016, 21:41   #14
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Re: Beachcombers please help!

Sure would love to see more done in central America... there are a lot of ravines that are the village dump that gets flushed out in the rainy season...
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