When circular economy adviser Kristine Berg sailed on a voyage across the North Pacific with eXXpedition, she saw firsthand what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch looked like.
"Washing baskets, toilet seats, lawn chairs and much more," she said. "It's out there for decades, so it's breaking down and becoming more like a plastic soup than the island of plastic that many people imagine. How in the world do you clean that up in any kind of efficient way? In time or money?"
Berg is not just another outside observer. She works with Tomra, the Norwegian company that specializes in recycling and sensor-based sorting systems. Taking part in eXXpedition, a not-for-profit organization that runs all-female sailing research expeditions, offered a unique opportunity to connect with the ocean.
"When we sailed across the North Pacific, the closest people to us were the International Space Station … so it's like going to the moon in many ways as well," she said.
There are 14 women on each eXXpedition voyage, forming a multidisciplinary collaborative crew that aims to gain a better understanding of the plastics issue as a whole by conducting research to address knowledge gaps in pursuit of effective solutions to the plastics crisis.