One of the biggest issues in today’s industrial world is that humans are creating more waste now than ever. An estimated 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans every year, while only 1% to 2% of it gets recycled. All of this waste in the ocean kills marine life and can release harmful chemicals into the water when the plastic decomposes over time. In this article, a young woman named Miranda Wang works to get rid of all this plastic by dissolving it with chemicals instead of attempting to recycle it or let it naturally decay. This solution will help slow down the increasing accumulation of debris in the ocean and save marine life in the process.
What prompted Wang to discover a solution to this problem was that she noticed the recycling procedures for plastic was extremely inefficient. Only 1 kind of the 5 most prevalent plastics can be recycled, and that is only if the plastic being recycled is completely clean. This means that any plastic with food, grease, or any other contaminant is immediately rejected by the recycling plants and is thrown out where it will take anywhere from 300 to 1,000 years to naturally decompose. The solution she came up with uses a liquid catalyst that transforms the plastics into its basic elements, which in themselves are not harmful for the environment. An obstacle to this problem is that the chemical prefers to breakdown any material on the plastic, such as food, before the plastic itself. When the chemical does breakdown the plastic the process is very slow, taking up to an hour to decompose 10 small pieces of plastic. Compared to any current solution, this one is the most promising and with more funding and exposure it can become a very useful way to fix the plastic pollution crisis.