At waster.com.au – we are always seeking to promote recycling to our clients – as a way to keep waste management costs down and help the environment. In today’s blog – I want to ask the question are we slightly missing the point – i.e. is sensible waste disposal the thing we should focus on first?

 

I was shocked to read this week that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is getting bigger and bigger. If you do not know what this is – you will be shocked to find out.

 

It is a huge floating load of rubbish – in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

 

According to Wikipedia:

 

“It is a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean discovered between 1985 and 1988. It is located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N.”

 

“Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,800,000 sq mi) (0.4% to 8% of the size of the Pacific Ocean).”

 

Should we focus more on plain and simple waste disposal?

 

The presence and expansion of the great floating mess makes me ask – should we as a society and globally really focus on sensible waste disposal first. Take that as a first step and then move our focus to recycling?

 

The patch appears to be getting out of control

 

A recent report by the BBC suggests that the issue is getting bigger and bigger.

 

“Predictions suggest a build-up of about 80,000 tonnes of plastic in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” between California and Hawaii.”

 

“This figure is up to sixteen times higher than previously reported, say international researchers.”

 

“One trawl in the centre of the patch had the highest concentration of plastic ever recorded.”

 

Waste disposal ocean

 

Even the experts are shocked by the growth of the issue:

 

“Erik van Sebille of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who is not connected with the study, said the amount of plastic discovered was “staggering”.”

 

Is there a solution?

 

Fundamentally – we need to globally stop the plastic waste from entering the ocean. This can be based on a number of approaches – i.e. reducing or eliminating plastic, providing real recycling solutions or with the lack of these solutions – providing secure waste disposal.

 

It is time that waste disposal for this plastic was seen as a bio-security risk or health risk by the international community i.e. given the increasing amount of plastic in the environment and foodchain.

 

For example – as recent report showed that even commercial bottled water in developed countries contains micro-plastics.

 

Sea life is also proven to consume plastic.

 

International response needed.

 

To prevent plastics from entering the ocean – a joined up international response is needed.

 

This would involve provision of recycling solutions or if not possible – proper waste disposal such as landfills as an interim measure in developing nations.

 

The worrying thing is that this issue has not even started to be discussed – let alone financial arrangements to rectify it found.

 

It it is your first time hearing about this issue – you can check out the short explainer video as below:

 

See our blog on Australia recycling and how trade issues can impact our environment.

 

See our blog on phasing out plastics from supermarkets.