Images via Vac from the Sea project
Electrolux is known for pushing the envelope on design, including sustainable design. And their latest project has our full attention. Pointing out that there isn't enough recycled plastic on land to supply demand, Electrolux is backing a project that would pull plastics from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and recycle it into appliances like vacuum cleaners. The project would simultaneously create (slightly) more sustainable products as well as help clean up the oceans. But, does it make real sense?The idea seems intriguing, right? Clean up a big mess and make products with recycled materials. However, there are issues:
Problem: Plastics from the garbage patch are of all different types and levels of degradation
Problem: Plastics from the garbage patch would be fuel-intensive to collect
It seems like mining landfills or actively requesting plastics from consumers -- in a similar fashion as Terracycle -- would make more sense. This would not only reduce the flow of plastics into the garbage patch in the first place and shrink how much plastic ends up in landfills, but also, if done right, it could be much, much less fuel-intensive to collect and process. That'd make any product produced from the plastics much more sustainable.
Luckily, we don't really have to worry about these issues because the campaign is one about awareness, not creating a viable source of raw materials.
"Electrolux aims to raise public awareness of the issue by gathering plastics from marine environments from a number of sites in the world. The collected plastic is sorted, washed, processed and used to produce a limited number of concept vacuum cleaners. The name of this quest is: Vac from the Sea."
The Vac from the Sea project's goal of showing how plastics can be a big boon for us, if created and used with care and longevity in mind, rather than disposability, is one that we absolutely love. A limited number of vacuums will be made from the plastic collected and, of all the noble and esteemed activists working to bring attention to the issue of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, these little vacuums might just steal the show, in a good way. And if anything, it'll bring attention to the need for more intelligent use of plastic.
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More on the Pacific Garbage Patch Clean-Up
First Great Pacific Garbage Patch Clean-Up Effort to Begin
Could We Clean Up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Even if we Wanted to?
Isn't it Time to Clean Up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?