What Comes Next?
What does the future look like for microplastics? Primary microplastics have already begun to be outlawed. There is active research being done to show the harm that microplastics cause within the environment. This will likely translate into legislation within the next few decades.
However, there does not seem to be a solution as simple for the prevention and cleanup of secondary microplastics. These cannot easily be stopped from being produced, nor will the cleaning measures, that will need to be taken in order to free the world of microplastics, be simple. Some people have ideas as to how to solve this problem.
Anna Du, a 12 year old girl, has created a robot that can move through the ocean and detect plastic, including microplastics. Although it is not able to collect microplastics, it shows that the future could bring a robot that could detect microplastics and collect them.
Biodegradation is another option for breaking down microplastics. Organisms are able to use enzymes to digest the synthetic polymers in order to produce energy and carbon molecules, that could be used for other processes, such as water filtration.
More traditional approaches are likely in the future of microplastic attention. Many environmental organizations have begun to start campaigns to inform people of the dangers and abundance of microplastics. They additionally have planned beach sweeps to clean up microplastic litter.
Although the future for the environment does not look bright, innovations such as these bring hope into visions of the future.
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Lallensack, Rachael. “This 12-Year-Old Girl Built a Robot That Can Find Microplastics In the Ocean.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 23 Oct. 2018, www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/12-year-old-girl-built-robot-can-find-microplastics-ocean-180970607/.
Alter, Charlotte. “Scientists Found a Bacteria Than Can 'Eat' Plastic.” Time, Time, 11 Mar. 2016, time.com/4256185/scientists-find-bacteria-that-can-eat-plastic-bottles/.
“A Novel Way to Rapidly Monitor Microplastics in Soil by Hyperspectral Imaging Technology and Chemometrics.” ScienceDirect, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749117349254.
Google Images, Google, images.google.com/?safe=active.