Plastic Soup

Book cover for Plastic Soup

Plastic Soup is an Atlas of Ocean Pollution distributed by Island Press The book was originally published in 2018 in Holland, and subsequently translated for the English market.

It is always tricky to recommend a book that deals with the wicked problems, and ocean plastic is certainly a wicked problem. Innovative ideas such as “Plastic Broth” help us to understand the emerging issues and just how difficult is the tasks to clean up the oceans.

Failure of Recycling

The contents of this book are educational and enlightening. The excellent graphics bring a new depth to the material. While we think that the issue of ocean pollution is being addressed with new boats and technology to scrape the surface of floating plastic, Plastic Soup makes clear that only 0.5% of plastic floats. Up to 39% of plastics are in the open seas, as opposed to the coastal waters (26.8%) or seabed/shorelines (33.7%). What doesn’t float is 200x greater than what does float. And what sinks can take many years to degrade, such as plastic bags (20 yrs); polystyrene (50); PET bottles (400); baby diapers (450), and fishing gear (600).

Fortunately, the book also addresses solutions to the problem, though it does not do much for new business models to replace plastics. We will be adapting from the recommendations in our Circular Economy pages.

-Patrick

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