Plastic Currents

Recycling Waterborne Plastics in Ballona Creek, LA

05/ 2020        
        The ocean as a bounded geographic space, has historically been perceived as a natural barrier between territories rather than as a territory in and of itself. Despite oceans covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, they are rarely considered as a valuable, and diverse environment, requiring careful maintenance.
Humans have been exploiting ocean environments for hundreds of years. Activities such as transportation and fishing occur primarily near the ocean surface whereas deep sea drilling and exploration happens both below the sea bed and across the entire oceanic depth. However, in depth studies of the ocean remained slim until the 1950s when new interpretive scientific frameworks were developed for data collection. Furthermore, in most scientific fields, more attention has been awarded to territorial topics rather than marine topics also due to the disassociation of the territory from direct human activity.

The greatest evidence that humans are invading the marine environment is the giant piles of plastic debris floating on the ocean surface. Many people consider sorting plastic waste into different recycling categories marks the second life of this robust material. However, the majority of them were shipped from developed countries to developing countries for recycling. Due to the mismanagement of waste and low recycling rate, many of plastic debris leaked to the waterbody and ended up being carried by marine gyres and formed into 5 gigantic garbage patches. The greatest patch, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is estimated to expand over an area of 1.6 million square kilometers(3 times the size of France), with an estimated mass of plastic to be 80,000 tonnes.

It is being confirmed that 80 percent of the plastic debris enters the ocean from rivers. This project aims to propose a potential infrastructure that tackles all aquatic plastic pollutants at the rivermouth before they enter the ocean.

Indonesian surf champion Dede Suryana rides a wave filled with trash on Untung Jawa Island. (Zak Noyle/A-Frame)

Ballona Creek, LA

Existing Plastic Waste



concept sketch