The world’s oceans are awash in plastic, and the problem is only getting worse. Each year, 8 million metric tons of plastic debris ends up in the oceans, and that’s on top of the 150 million metric tons already in marine environments. The debris ensnares seabirds, starves whales and infiltrates the entire marine food chain — including humans, too, when we eat seafood.
Recently, there have been some high-profile efforts to remove plastic debris already in the oceans. Less well-known are efforts that aim to keep plastic from getting into oceans in the first place.
In one especially promising initiative, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based company called Plastic Bank is promoting plastic recycling in developing nations — which contribute disproportionately to the ocean plastic problem — via a blockchain-based system that lets locals trade collected plastic for health care, tuition, cooking oil and other goods and services.
Plastic waste is a particular problem in poor nations because they often lack a reliable waste-management system. In some countries, large swaths of land are now carpeted with bottles, bags and other plastic debris.
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