Is there hope for our oceans? - Leaf'd

Is there hope for our oceans?

by Matt Tomasino
/ As the planet suffers its share of human bombardment, great research and design teams are hard at work finding ways to clean up our mess, while making it a lucrative investment at the same time. One place that is getting investors’ attention from the green business sector is ocean cleanup. Each year, ocean plastic kills scores of wildlife and continually disrupts the Ecosystem, both geographically and internally, with many sea creatures poisoned in the process. Organizations, individuals, small businesses and corporations are determining if technology for plastic-free oceans is a good investment. However, throwing money at a problem as huge as ocean cleanup could be a lost cause, unless we take advantage of opportunities. How Bad Is It? According to the recent report, ‘The Next Wave: Investment Strategies for Plastic Free Seas’ by the nonprofit organization Ocean Conservancy, “250 million metric tons of plastic will likely enter the oceans by 2025.” To put it into perspective, Busch Sports Stadium in St. Louis, MI., can hold 200 million tons of garbage from top to bottom. Some might say that perhaps we can invent something to clean up this sports stadium worth of ocean plastic. It seems like a good idea, but the ocean currents and sheer expanse of this plastic is not as easy as shoveling it out with volunteer mobilization. Therefore, green business initiatives have become an essential player. There is a tremendous Return on Investment right now for ocean cleanup green business.
According to the recent report, ‘The Next Wave: Investment Strategies for Plastic Free Seas’ by the nonprofit organization Ocean Conservancy, “250 million metric tons of plastic will likely enter the oceans by 2025.”
One of the Techs As reported by The Guardian, the nonprofit organization, Ocean Cleanup, headed by young inventor Boyan Slat, announced in 2016 its plan to “deploy 100 kilometers of passive floating barriers in an effort to clean up 42% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch plastic pollution in 10 years.” The prototype, “relies on wind, waves and currents to push the floating plastic into screens that extend from the floating barriers like a skirt. The idea is that the current can pass beneath the screens, which will prevent ‘bycatch’ of plants and animals. Since plastic floats, ocean pollution between 35-100 millimeters in size will be captured by the barriers.” Green business investment opportunities in ocean cleanup offers returns attributed to a percentage of sales of each cleanup machine and profits from recycling harvested ocean plastic. Couch Investors Like many businesses, green business often performs on a different platform. One of these is the opportunity for Eco-investing through crowdfunding sources. Ocean Cleanup raised $2.2 mil for its first phase, with 38,000 funders from 160 countries in 100 days. Crowdfunding is always an impressive and often socially conscious effort, but much of it amounts to fundraising rather than investing. Although Ocean Cleanup may be offering incentives to funders, it is commercial investors who will propel the ocean cleanup strategy. Commercial Investors It is the common sense ocean cleanup investment that is arising. Companies affected by ocean pollution such as marinas, recreational and private beach organizations, fishing contractors, tourist companies, government organizations and even desalinization plants are stepping up as potential investors. Add in advertisers vying to put their logo on cleanup machines to show green business “support,” and technology for plastic-free oceans becomes a good investment. Ocean Cleanup received a third of its capital from a Dutch dredging and marine contractor, and another third through the Dutch government. A Perpetual Problem Many believe that preventing plastics from being dumped into the oceans in the first place, is a better goal. Although creating ocean cleanup technology supports one environmental solution as well as an industry of employment, according to the report ‘Analysis of Plastic Pollution Investment Strategies – February 2017’ “We simply cannot be constantly searching for new ways to manage an ever-increasing amount of waste— if we do, we will never be able to truly protect our communities and our oceans.” On the other hand, the consequences of staying the same are dire. Others would argue that changing offshore plastic manufacturing to more Eco-friendly materials has already been attempted and failed due to free-enterprise political blowback. However, there are numerous global companies that have developed toxic and waste-free products, and created ways in which to clean up the oceans of harmful materials. Until there is a drastic global change from cheap plastic manufacturing to more eco-friendly packaging, green business investment in technology for plastic-free oceans may be our only play. Within the next 10-20 years, our only option will be to invest in sustainable materials, or we will have done irreversible damage to our planet.
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