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Boat made of bottles.

On a mission to raise awareness about plastic pollution, a crew crossed the Pacific Ocean in a catamaran made out of 12,500 recycled plastic bottles. That's about the number of these containers Americans throw away every 8.3 seconds.

The boat, named the Plastiki, sailed from San Francisco, California, to Sydney, Australia, traveling around the Eastern Garbage Patch--a floating mass of plastic trash twice as big as Texas. Scientists estimate that every year at least 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they get tangled in plastic pollution or ingest it.

On their four-month, 15,500 kilometer (9,600 mile) journey, Plastiki's crew was surprised at the large amount of garbage and how little wildlife they saw. "We only saw one pod of whales and dolphins, a couple of birds, and very few fish," says expedition leader David de Rothschild.


Plastiki was built from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET)--a plastic widely used in bottles--and an experimental fabric called self-reinforcing PET (srPET), woven from recycled PET fibers. Unlike typical fiberglass boats, which cannot be recycled, Plastiki's hull, deck, and cabin are completely recyclable.


BOUYANT MATERIAL: 12,500 recycled plastic bottles were used to build Plastiki.

WIND, SOLAR, AND PEDAL POWER: Wind turbines and solar panels generate electricity for the ship, as do two stationary bikes the crew uses for exercise. Underwater turbines near the rudders also generate power.

CABIN: The boat's cabin is designed to house a crew of six. Made of srPET, the cabin can be removed for reuse as a shelter on land. The roof captures rainwater for showers, and a composting toilet uses earthworms and coconut husks to break down waste.

DESALINATION: The crew used a machine to desalinate, or remove salt from, seawater to make it suitable for drinking.



Americans use about
12,500 plastic bottles
every 8.3 seconds. How
many of those bottles
will be recycled?

Bottles thrown away     80%
Bottles recycled        20%

Note: Table made from pie chart.
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Author:Binns, Corey
Publication:Science World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 8, 2010
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