Message in a plastic bottle

Friday 02 Jul 2010

WHIM takes the plunge, revealing design for floating island of recycled plastic in Pacific

Plans have been revealed for a new island in the North Pacific Gyre which could accommodate up to half a million people. Netherlands-based firm WHIM Architecture has designed the floating island to be manufactured out of 44,000 tonnes of waste plastic currently drifting on our seas, turning an environmental hazard on its head to create a fully sustainable, self-sufficient island the size of Hawaii.

Named ‘Recycled Island’, the project involves a complex fabrication process in order to make washed-up plastic refuse into an effective building substance. The WHIM’s website outlines the following method: collecting discarded plastic from the Pacific Ocean; separating the plastic into groups according to type; shredding the material followed by a thorough cleaning process; heating the plastic; reproduction into a functional building material; constructing the island – here images show the entire island being pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle; the assembly of plastic housing.

Set to include residential housing, agricultural land, beaches and tourism outlets, it has been suggested that Recycled Island could become something of an eco-tourism hotspot. The Pacific Ocean currently holds the largest amount of plastic waste on Earth, causing immense amounts of damage to wildlife. A spokesperson for WHIM Architecture explained: “We have three main aims; cleaning our oceans from a gigantic amount of plastic waste; creating new land; and constructing a sustainable habitat.”

Seaweed is also thought to play a major part in the self-sufficient nature of Recycled Island, as plans include extensive seaweed cultivation areas and the WHIM’s website states that the farms ‘can increase local fish populations by providing shelter and food for herbivorous fishes, and act as ‘nutrient sinks’ that take up inorganic nutrients (ammonia, nitrate, phosphate) from the water column’. The product can also be utilised for food, bio-fuel, fertiliser, medicine and CO2 absorption.

Sian Disson
News Editor

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