Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
It's a nasty collection of trash, wastewater and plastic - millions of tonnes worth - in the North Pacific Ocean. And it's growing.
Well, a Belgian company is looking at all that ocean trash and seeing the potential to help the environment and do business.
Ecover, a green cleaning brand, is looking to take plastic from the ocean and turn it into sustainable bottles, in partnership with Logoplaste, a Portugal-based packager.
The UK Environment Agency has offered to support the project.
The new bottles will be made from a combination of plastic from the ocean, recycled plastic from land-based sources, and a plastic made from sugar cane.
That last one is known as "Fantastic-Plantastic". It's made when sugar cane is harvested, fermented and distilled into ethanol. From there, it's dehydrated to make ethylene, which is turned into plastic.
There's no word yet on what percentage of each bottle will be made out of "sea plastic," or exactly how much plastic the company expects to get out of the ocean.
But Ecover hopes to have the new bottles hit the shelves next year.
So, how does it plan to get the plastic out of the ocean? Ecover says specially outfitted boats will collect the waste.
Each boat will fish out between two and eight tonnes per trawl, and fishermen will be encouraged to deposit any plastic they collect at special recycling facilities.
Once the plastic is recovered, it will be cleaned, sorted and sent to a recycling plant in an East London suburb. Ecover says trials have already begun for what the company claims will be the "first ever fully sustainable and recyclable plastic."
Ecover chief executive Philip Malmberg tells The Guardian: "We won't have a definitive figure on the amount we will retrieve, we are just hoping to get as much as is possible and give fishermen an incentive to join the initiative and help clean the seas. We want to get the sea waste in as much of our packaging as possible."
According to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website, "Scientists have documented the consumption of plastic by 177 marine species. Seabirds... are particularly vulnerable because they feed at the sea surface. They often mistake floating plastic for food items, with deadly results."
It goes on to say, "one million plastic bags are used and discarded worldwide, every minute."
The effect of all this waste on marine life can be brutal. Last year, a sperm whale that died off the coast of Spain had flowerpots, hosepipe and nearly 30 square metres of plastic greenhouse covers in its stomach, according to a scientific study on the problem.
Malmberg adds: "As manufacturers we've got to take responsibility for sustainability very seriously - to take real action on climate change and the damage done by our over-reliance on fossil fuels."
Via The Guardian