This Boat Powers Itself with Ocean Waste

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It’s estimated that eight million metric tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year, accounting for 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. As a result, there are now approximately 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Scientists predict that ocean plastic will outweigh all of the ocean’s fish by 2050. Aside from the plastic waste we see floating visibly on the ocean’s surface, there are four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer sitting in the deep sea, which is especially hard to clean up. In some cases, plastic debris in the ocean has amassed to form giant garbage patches, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that comprises 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic waste and covers an area twice the size of Texas. Plastic pollution at this mammoth scale is having a devastating impact on marine life. Animals including seabirds, whales, fish, and turtles confuse plastic waste for prey and either ingest or become entangled by it. This results in serious injuries and often death caused by lacerations, starvation, suffocating, internal injuries, or the animal’s inability to swim. In addition, as plastic waste breaks down into microplastics — a process that takes around 400 years — it releases chemicals that further contaminate the sea and threatens marine life. Each year, ocean plastics result in the deaths of more than 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds.

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