The research is clear: Man-made pollution is choking the oceans. From plastics that swirl around the world trashing beaches and killing marine animals, to chemical and oil spills that poison the sea, humans are to blame for much of the oceans’ deteriorating health.
Fortunately for our planet, some people have dedicated themselves to reversing mankind’s mistakes. In honor of World Oceans Day Thursday, HuffPost is highlighting groundbreaking inventions that were designed to take care of the sea.
While these solutions won’t entirely solve the world’s pollution problem ― real change can only happen when humans drastically change their consumption and plastic production habits ― the projects featured below are a good place to start.
1. This genius bucket that sucks trash and oil out of the sea
Surfers spend a great deal of their lives floating in the ocean, so it makes sense that they would also be responsible for a brilliant yet simple invention that literally sucks pollution out from the water’s surface.
The SeaBin, created by two Australian surfers, is a bucket with a pump and water filtration system that is designed to suck debris from any marina or dock. The bucket includes an optional oil-water separator system that will pull oil right out of the ocean, then spit out cleaner water through the other side of the pump.
Owners of the technology are still developing their prototype, but a small number of SeaBins have been installed at marinas around the world, including San Diego and Finland. The product is expected to go on sale to the public later this year, according to Business Insider.
2. Boyan Slat’s ambitious plan to clean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
When Boyan Slat first presented his plan to clear out half of the trash floating in the garbage patch between California and Hawaii, he was just a teenager with a really ambitious idea. Now, three years later, Slat’s blueprints are close to becoming reality.
Slat’s organization, The Ocean Cleanup, has raised an estimated $31.5 million to develop a drifting V-shaped system designed to collect plastic pollution at the ocean’s surface as currents push it along.
In May, Slat released an updated design of his prototype, which included a fleet of his V-shaped systems that will drift across the Pacific and simultaneously sweep up debris. The Ocean Cleanup announced that the company would begin clearing out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2018.
3. This technology that turns plastic waste into oil
A recycling company executive and a team of engineers have developed new technology that reportedly turns plastic products into oil.
Adrian Griffiths from the British company Recycling Technologies is using a machine the size of a tennis court in a trash processing center west of London to break down a variety of plastic products, including cling wrap and electronics, and turn them into usable materials or energy-producing oil.
Bloomberg reports that the machine heats up the waste to 932 degrees Fahrenheit, melting the debris into a vapor. It’s then cooled to create one of three different materials: a fuel that can be sold to petrochemical companies, a wax-like substance that’s similar to what ship engines burn or a brown wax that can be used for shoe polish or cosmetics.
The technique used by the machine, known as pyrolysis, breaks down the mix of plastics into a more basic molecule so that it can be turned into an oil that the University of Warwick has named Plaxx, according to the Telegraph.
Engineers at the university developed the technology and are working with Recycling Technologies to put it to use.