Getting rid of plastic

Environmental engineer Serena Cunsolo is trying to stop microplastics from entering the ocean

 

I'm Serena Cunsolo. I'm a PHD student at Portsmouth University and I'm an engineer on a mission to prevent plastics from entering our rivers and oceans.

 

In 2015 I was part of the Ocean Cleanup. It's a Dutch foundation that develops technologies to rid the worlds oceans of plastics. I was part of the Ocean Plastics Research Team and we had one main goal, which was trying to quantify the amount of plastic floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is the largest accumulation zone of ocean plastic, so that is why we wanted to go there and measure the amount of plastic. The main finding of the research is that around 80 million kilos of plastic are floating in that specific area and another important finding was that above 90 percent of the plastics were micro plastics.

 


Once micro plastics ends up in the ocean it's almost impossible to retrieve them. That's why prevention is extremely important and this is the reason why I then decided to start
a PHD and focus on micro plastic pollution. My research is investigating micro plastic pollution through the waste water treatment process, in order to prevent micro plastics from entering the oceans. I believe that engineering is basically where technology meets science, so engineering gives us the tool to apply that knowledge to solve real-world problems.

 

The fact that I'm given the chance with my job to try to reduce the impact of plastics on the environment makes me very happy.