3 Inspiring Innovations Tackling Plastic Waste

2 comments by Liv McLeod
3 Inspiring Innovations Tackling Plastic Waste
Look, we know that the plastic situation is looking pretty dire.
You probably don't need to see one more stat about microplastics, fossil fuels, or how plastic is causing climate change. We get it! Plastic is harmful!
So instead, let's look into a couple of new developments in the global sphere to end The Plastic Reign. We all need a little good news, and it's comforting to know that there are some head honchos out there who really are doing the work.

Global Plastics Treaty

Nations agree to end plastic pollution | United Nations

What is it?

In spiffing timing with Plastic Free July, the key elements of a global treaty to reduce plastic waste have just been knocked into order.
Over 175 nations had their first meeting in 28 November 2022 to sort out the nitty gritty. This agreement is going to be legally binding - meaning that if countries fail to meet the standards, there'll be consequences.

What went down?

Because this Treaty is legally binding, the nations that are responsible for a large amount of plastic production weren't so keen.
They found themselves toe-to-toe with eco-superheroes, the High Ambition Coalition. This group of 40+ countries (including Australia!) argued for mandatory globalised rules, with a restriction on production.
In contrast, countries like the US and Saudi Arabia, home to the top plastic and petrochemical companies, argued for weaker terms. They proposed country-driven pledges instead.

What next?

Despite disagreements, the gavel came down and a draft Treaty is in progress. On an unusually speedy timeline, it'll be reviewed in Kenya later this year.
While it's clear that some nations and companies are covering their behinds when it comes to regulating plastic production, there's many more that want to create a better future.
The Treaty was born out of the recognition that the plastic problem is so overgrown, it's impossible for one player to fix it on its own. The world will have to genuinely work together in order to overcome this.
So that's pretty inspiring.

New Invention: Microplastic Removal from Water

This Google Science Fair winner is using a magnetic liquid to remove  microplastics from water | World Economic Forum

What is it?

One of the scariest facts about microplastics is how far they can spread. They've been found in the air, our waterways, and even human blood.
But now there's a new invention that has the power to pull microplastics out of our ocean. We call it: the magnet.

How does it work?

22-year-old Fionn Ferreira is known for his invention of a method to remove microplastic particles from water using a natural ferrofluid mixture. Ferrofluid sounds like a Marvel invention, but it's really just a magnetic liquid that can be mixed with water.
Microplastics naturally attract themselves to the ferrofluid, and then a magnet is used to attract the microplastic-infused ferrofluid out of the water.
Ingenious, right?
The best part is that it's completely harmless to the ocean's flora and fauna.

What's next?

Ferreira is currently creating a version of the device that can be installed in pipes, to catch microplastics as water flows through them.
As well as this, he's making one that can be stuck on ships as they pass through the ocean!
Things are looking up.

New invention: Bubble Barrier

The Great Bubble Barrier - The Earthshot Prize

What is it?

Aside from the microplastics, there's also a major problem with larger pieces of plastic in our waterways.
This is a new invention by four Dutch inventors called The Great Bubble Barrier, able to be installed into rivers.

How does it work?

It's incredibly simple. A tube is installed into the river, and air bubbles are pushed through the holes.
The plastic is caught in the air bubbles and pushed to the surface of the river, ready for collection.
The higher oxygen levels in the ocean are also beneficial for the river ecosystem!

What next?

The first prototype was created in 2017, and the first long-term barrier was installed in an Amsterdam Canal in 2019.
The device is so simple, it can be used anywhere in the world.
Sound good? The team are currently looking for pioneers of this new invention, and you can take action here.
The Great Bubble Barrier - STOP! Micro Waste

In a world drowning in plastic, it's a breath of fresh air to stumble upon some positive developments in our fight against this global issue. Sure, the problem may seem as daunting as a mountain of dirty dishes, but hold on tight!
Governments, inventors, and everyday folks are teaming up, armed with determination and a shared goal: to kick plastic to the curb. There's a cleaner, healthier planet for generations to come on the horizon.


  • Twizzle Designs

    It’s great to hear that progress is being made on a global treaty regarding plastics. And that the draft treaty is underway. 😊 I’ll keep an eye open for the review in Kenya later this year. Also inspiring that new inventions – particularly to remove micro plastics from waterways – are now in action! Thank you for the updates.

  • Heather Doherty

    Are you people working with supermarkets and retail outlets to use your eco friendly containers and wrappers. What can I do to help?

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