Marine debris -- plastic litter and other junk that finds its way into oceans and lakes -- is a major problem for the global plastics industry, and it's often cited as a reason for bans and taxes on single-use products. So perhaps the idea of a mechanical drone that can clean up after careless consumers has some appeal. I noticed the story "Marine Drone Cleans Up Plastic Waste in Ocean" on energydigital.com, and it links to the source, Yanko Design. According to Yanko Design: "The drone is basically an oversized pool net with a sensor fitted machine. It nets drifting plastic trash in a very innovative way. Several drones scout the seas for waste and use a special sensor to keep away fish and other aquatic animals. It is equipped with an infrasound system and the high-powered batteries allow them to stay in the water for more than 2 weeks." The drone has generated some interesting comments on the sites. One reader noted: Drones in the skies above us, drones in the water below us. When will we realise that the problem on this planet is not plastic or other species, the problem is US, human beings. This is getting completely out of hand." Another said: "Interesting concept but certainly not feasible. Have you seen the garbage patches in the oceans? They are the size of Texas. You would need a million of these drones and pick them up to empty them every 30 minutes. And that's not even considering ocean currents, severe weather and shipping traffic. These drones could keep a public pool clean but would end up being part of the problem in the ocean. "As with any problem of global scale there is no silver bullet solution. We would certainly need to clean up the mess with giant cleaning ships and start replacing plastics with bioplastics that have a short lifetime. And most of all as the planet is not getting any bigger we would need to stop multiplying... that however is another conversation." It's an intiguing idea, using technology to clean up a huge mess over an area that seems too big to imagine. But -- obviously -- a better solution is to stop generating so much marine debris in the first place. A lot of communities seem to think the only way to do that is to ban plastics products. But there has to be a better combination of consumer education, and producer responsibility, to deal effectively with this issue.
Can we use drones to clean up plastic litter?
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