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Recycled Island  (Source: Recycled Island Project)

Living quarters on the island  (Source: Recycled Island Project)

The island's "fertile ground" made of seaweed and human manure fertilizer.  (Source: Recycled Island Project)

A seaweed farm bordering the island  (Source: Recycled Island Project)
Island nation would give recycling a whole new meaning

Located between Hawaii and San Francisco, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a floating column composed largely of particulate plastic residues that may cover an area twice the size of Texas.  Exact determination of size is difficult, due to the inability to image the area with satellite imagery (the particulate polymeric residues which saturate the water are not visible via satellite).

Even as "trash patches" pop up in other oceans, The Netherlands Architecture Fund has dreamed up a wild idea to transform this "dirty" patch into a green paradise.  Under its plan, engineers would build "Recycle Island", a floating island nation, from polymers both from the shore and from those harvest from the water.  The WHIM architecture firm is collaborating on the project, looking at how an urban paradise could be constructed in the unusual location.

The project has three primary goals.  The first is to create on-site recycling of the particles of plastic floating in the water.  That would help with the second goal, which would be to establish a stable and seaworthy island.  Lastly, the island is to be self-sufficient with its own sustainable food and energy sources.

Under the plan, the island would cover 10,000 km
2, roughly the size of Hawaii’s main island.  The island would be its own nation, with its own laws.  It would sustain agriculture, in part, from "fertile ground" formed from compost toilets.  The project founders say it would be an ideal home for "climate refugees".

Ideas floated for power include solar, wave, and wind energies.  Seaweed would be farmed for fertilizer, food, fish farm feed, biofuel, CO2 capture, and medicine.  Chemicals like ammonia, nitrate, phosphate would be harvested from the water in the trash patch.

The project is starting out small, currently looking to gather samples of the water/plastic mix in the garbage patch.  Its organizers are reaching out to recruit chemists and engineers to help figure out the ideal way to recycle the slew into usable material for their envisioned island paradise.

The idea is outlandish and at this point seems unlikely (if merely for economic reasons), but it does seem a charmingly futurist vision.  The full project plan can be found here.

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By rcc on 7/15/2010 1:32:19 PM , Rating: 2
I say go for it. Just don't ask the taxpayers (of any country) to pay for it.

And, just out of idle curiousity, what are they going to do when they drift into someone's territorial waters. Or oil rigs, or heck, just an island.

News Flash.... Hey guys and gals, Greentopia has become wedged behind Midway Island. Unfortunately, this is causing the southern neighborhoods to push up into the northern neighborhoods, and oh, in other breaking news there is a Typhoon headed for the Western Pacific. Good luck folks!

I suppose they could try to tether it to a seamount somewhere, but given the size.......

RE: Cool
By marvdmartian on 7/15/2010 2:47:47 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, no taxpayer money (though you just KNOW they'll try to get "foreign aid" from the US government!).

So far as typhoons go, I don't believe Midway gets too many of those, just due to their geographical location. Being east of the date line, and as far north as they are, they're sort of in a zone that doesn't see many of those storms, if my information is correct.

There is a problem on Midway with garbage from the patch washing up on shore, and they say that most of the sea birds there have been found to have bits of plastic in their guts, so having this island wash up on the shores of Midway isn't too much of a stretch of the imagination.

RE: Cool
By rcc on 7/19/2010 3:29:07 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't really need to be a typhoon, and decent size Pacific storm will do. : )

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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