Quantcast

This Is What 200 Tons of Marine Debris Looks Like ... From Just 12 Miles of Alaska's Coastline

A cleanup crew recovered 200 tons of trash from just 12 miles of Alaska's coastline around Prince William Sound.

Gulf of Alaska Keeper (GoAK), a nonprofit dedicated to picking up debris around the state, filled 1,200 "super sacks" and collected thousands of buoys, marine debris specialist Scott Groves said. The group spent a month at Montague Island and two weeks at Kayak Island to collect the trash, KTVA Alaska reported.

Groves, who was interviewed by KTVA after they were done collecting the trash, said, "It's such a pristine place out there also, so being able to fly over where we've cleaned and to see what we have done is a good feeling."

The 200 tons of trash was shipped to Anchorage on a barge. It took an entire day to unload the trash. Now, GoAK will spend at least 10 full days sorting the trash, enlisting more than 100 volunteers.

Groves hopes to pick out everything that can be recycled. He said as much as 80 percent of the total debris might be recyclable.

"With the amount of plastic everyone uses in today's age, a lot of what we find is single-use plastics," Groves said. "So just taking one water bottle and being able to reuse that again is huge."

The presence of plastics in the ocean is plaguing the world. A report completed by UK-based Eunomia Research & Consulting found 80 percent of the annual input of plastic litter comes from land-based sources. The remaining 20 percent are plastics released at sea, such as fishing gear.

Even worse, 94 percent of the plastic that enters the oceans ends up on the sea floor.

Alaska's coastline isn't the only one covered with debris. In recent weeks a "glacier of trash," as local authorities described it, is inundating beaches in Hong Kong. The situation is so bad that trash on one of the affected islands can be seen from space.

Between July 1 and 9 alone, about 172,000 pounds—or 8 tons—of trash were collected from Hong Kong beaches. That's 40 percent of the amount collected in Alaska.

Sponsored
by [D.Jiang] / Moment / Getty Images

By Alena Kharlamenko

Tofu is a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Read More Show Less
KarinaKnyspel / iStock / Getty Images

2018 saw a number of studies pointing to the outsized climate impact of meat consumption. Beef has long been singled out as particularly unsustainable: Cows both release the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere because of their digestive processes and require a lot of land area to raise. But for those unwilling to give up the taste and texture of a steak or burger, could lab-grown meat be a climate-friendly alternative? In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Oxford Martin School set out to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Three scissor-tailed flycatcher fledglings in a mesquite tree in Texas. Texas Eagle / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Gary Paul Nabhan

President Trump has declared a national emergency to fund a wall along our nation's southern border. The border wall issue has bitterly divided people across the U.S., becoming a vivid symbol of political deadlock.

Read More Show Less
PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Daniel Ross

Hurricane Florence, which battered the U.S. East Coast last September, left a trail of ruin and destruction estimated to cost between $17 billion and $22 billion. Some of the damage was all too visible—smashed homes and livelihoods. But other damage was less so, like the long-term environmental impacts in North Carolina from hog waste that spilled out over large open-air lagoons saturated in the rains.

Hog waste can contain potentially dangerous pathogens, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. According to the state's Department of Environmental Quality, as of early October nearly 100 such lagoons were damaged, breached or were very close to being so, the effluent from which can seep into waterways and drinking water supplies.

Read More Show Less
This picture taken on May 21, 2018 shows discarded climbing equipment and rubbish scattered around Camp 4 of Mount Everest. Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world's highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind. DOMA SHERPA / AFP / Getty Images

China has closed its Everest base camp to tourists because of a buildup of trash on the world's tallest mountain.

Read More Show Less