Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Feb 09th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Sea Change with Plastic?

cleanoceansFRESH DIRT > GT checks in with local nonprofit The Clean Oceans Project

The oceans are polluted with plastic, and at least one local group is trying to do something about it. The Clean Oceans Project (TCOP) aims to make our plastic-filled waterways a thing of the past by creating a market for the waste. Using technology that seems right out of a science-fiction movie, TCOP hopes to equip ships with the power to convert plastic into petroleum right at sea.

The local organization’s representatives held a demonstration on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the Ecology Action building in Downtown Santa Cruz. The demonstration was lead by Captain Jim Holm, co-founder of the project and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard since 1979. He began financing the project with his own money three years ago after hearing of the plastic-to-fuel technology created by Japanese-based company Blest Co.

“The more I learned about the technology, the more I liked it,” says Holm.

Holm believes that to encourage people to clean up the oceans, it has to be worth their while. TCOP aims give our trash a monetary value by converting it into fuel, which can then be sold at a premium.

“If we make this trash worth money,” says Holm, “somebody’s going to pick it up.”

Adding to the nonprofit’s eco-friendly chops, the complex technology is able to produce fuel with practically no waste. Eight pounds of plastic processed through the machine will create one gallon of fuel, which weighs almost exactly eight pounds. The gargantuan machines release water vapor, about the same amount of CO2 that one adult breathes out in a day, and a negligible amount of pure carbon that’s safe enough to fertilize your garden.

The demonstration featured a miniature reproduction of the machine that was small enough to fit on a table. At about 18 inches high, the contraption consisted of a gray metal box, a small digital screen, and a clear cylinder filled with water. A plastic bottle was inserted into the machine at the beginning of the presentation; about an hour later the bottle had broken down into a three-fourths of an inch thick layer of yellowish petroleum floating on top of the water visible through the clear cylinder.

TCOP has held a number of demonstrations like this in an attempt to drum up support and recruit investors to the project. But as Holm and the rest of the organization’s members know all too well, their enterprise won’t be enough to completely fix the problem. They strongly believe that in order to reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean, people must reduce their consumption. In 2010, the United States alone generated more than 50 million tons of plastic waste, and only about 2 percent of that gets recycled, according to Nick Drobac, TCOP executive director.

Drobac summed up the Project’s goals with his closing statement: “Even if we are wildly successful beyond our dreams, we’re not the silver bullet. It’s going to take everybody.”


To learn more, visit thecleanoceansproject.org.

 

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Ed Zach, October 28, 2011
So, a ship full of new cars from Japan is going to zig-zag around the Pacific picking up floating beer can carriers, bottle caps, water bottles, plastic bags and such to convert to fuel while it delivers the cars to the Port of Oakland? That doesn't seem like a very economical approach to things.

Also, this sounds almost like a perpetual motion machine. It takes a bunch of energy to quickly decompose plastics into anything like petroleum, and if you get 8 pounds of petro out of 8 pounds of plastic, then you have to be applying external energy of some sort. You could burn some of the plastic, but then you'd get less than 8 pounds of petro, and of course, that would be evil because it burning plastic generates greenhouse gases, smoke, etc. I'm skeptical.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

On the Run

Is there hope for California’s salmon?

 

Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey

Monday, Feb. 8, is Aquarius new moon (19 degrees) and Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey (an imaginative, intelligent and vigilant creature). Monkey is bright, quick, lively, quite naughty, clever, inquiring, sensible, and reliable. Monkey loves to help others. Often they are teachers, writers and linguists. They are very talented, like renaissance people. Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the year of Monkey. Monkey contains metal (relation to gold) and water (wisdom, danger). 2016 will be a year of finances. For a return on one’s money, invest in monkey’s ideas. Metal is related to wind (change). Therefore events in 2016 will change very quickly. We must ponder with care before making financial, business and relationship changes. Fortune’s path may not be smooth in 2016. Finances and business as usual will be challenged. Although we develop practical goals, the outcomes are different than hoped for. We must be cautious with investments and business partnership. It is most important to cultivate a balanced and harmonious daily life, seeking ways to release tension, pressure and stress to improve health and calmness. Monkey is lively, flexible, quick-witted, and versatile. Their gentle, honest, enchanting yet resourceful nature results often in everlasting love. Monkeys are freedom loving. Without freedom, Monkey becomes dull, sad and very unhappy. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), the Chinese official title of Marquis (noble person) was pronounced ‘Hou,’ the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey’ in Chinese. Monkey was thereby bestowed with auspicious (favorable, fortunate) meaning. Monkey years are: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 5

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Wine and Chocolate

West Cliff Wines gets its game on, plus a brand new chocolate cafe on Center Street

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster

 

Dancing Creek Winery

New Zinfandel Port is a ruby beauty

 

Venus Spirits

Changing law could mean new opportunity for local spirits