When we clean up trash from the oceans and rivers, what do we do with all of that trash?



With all the focus on climate change, and cleaning up the oceans, I’ve been wondering this for a while. Wouldn’t burning it just create a larger carbon footprint? And dumping it all in some landfill doesn’t seem very good for the environment either. Where does it go?

In: Other

I’m not qualified to answer the question but I have watched a few docs about this process in other countries. In Indonesia fisherman have switched from fishing to collecting. However they only pick a small percentage as it’s not all valuable or recyclable at all

The estimation of plastic in the oceans is 8 million tonnes added annually and 150 million metric tonnes in it not and when you burn it you release approximate 3.5x the amount of carbon dioxide or 530 million tonnes

The total release of carbon dioxide is around 37 billion metric tons per year so even if burned all plastic in the oceans today the increased release is 530/37000=1.4% for a single year. At the same time, a lot of the released carbon dioxide stuff we burn for energy production and you could replace it with the plastic so burning it would reduce the amount of coal, etc we burn so there do not need to be a net increase of carbon dioxide. The potential it other stuff that is released when it but flue gas cleaning can help a lot.

The problem with plastic in the ocean is that is broken down and the small and is consumed by animals. if you would store it on land you can create a landfill where it does not break down or is the release where animals can consume it an that is a lot better then if it is in the sea.

So burning does not necessarily create a net carbon dioxide increase and storing it on land is better than in the water. Both are not good for the environment but a lot less bad where it is now. The problem is that it is very hard to collect and the most efficient thing to start with is to stop more plastic reaching the oceans.