These 3 Teens Figured Out a Brilliant Way to Recycle Styrofoam
Article by Joe McCarthy for GlobalCitizen.org
When Luke Clay and his family visited Central America several years ago, they were stunned by the amount of plastic pollution they saw. Styrofoam, in particular, seemed to be everywhere, degrading otherwise beautiful environments. “It was overwhelming,” Clay, now 16, said in an interview with Scientific American. “What it told me was that governments make no priority to dispose of the stuff.”
Styrofoam, he learned, couldn’t be recycled like some other forms of plastic, and it can take up to 500 years to break down — hence why it takes up around 30% of global landfill space. So Clay, along with his friends Ashton Cofer and Julia Bray, decided to find a way to repurpose it. Fast forward a few years, and the team began receiving awards left and right for their groundbreaking discovery. The trio of teenagers had figured out how to turn styrofoam waste into activated carbon, the primary ingredient in water filters, according to the Scientific American, which awarded the team the Innovators Award at the 2016 Google Science Fair. After 50 hours of lab work, the team found the right combination of heat, duration, and chemicals, and managed to extract the carbon from styrofoam.
They managed to not only effectively dispose of styrofoam but found a cost-effective way to purify water — a process that could potentially help the more than 2.1 billion people that lack access to clean drinking water around the world. “Not only were we able to create activated carbon for purifying water but we were also able to reduce styrofoam waste, solving two global problems with just one solution,” Cofer said in a TED Talk on the breakthrough.
The team has applied for a patent and is currently working to commercialize the process. While the ultimate goal in the movement against plastic is to eliminate styrofoam, the three teens are showing that all the styrofoam currently in production or contaminating environments can be dealt with.
These teens are doing GREAT THINGS!
Since 2008, PICTURE Organic Clothing has been doing great things, too! They have been creating organic, recycled and bio-sourced products for snowboarding, skiing, surfing and the outdoors. They are committed to sustainability through the whole process: the design, raw materials, the making, the use, the 2nd life and end life of all of their products. Responsible.
We Are PICTURE
As soon as we start designing, we imagine how to approach recyclability, second life, & end of life. Scrap fabric is typically burned, which has disastrous carbon impact on the environment. That is why we recover and re-use all production scraps and raw materials from our manufacturing partners. These scraps and waste are then used to assemble unique, brightly colored and randomly assembled jacket liners.
Organic cotton farming does not use GM seeds, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. It preserves biodiversity, restores and builds up the soil, and saves a lot of water. An organic farm produces 94% less carbon emissions than conventional.
All of our technical products are made from a minimum of 50% recycled polyester from plastic bottles. We recycle 50 plastic bottles to make 1 Picture jacket.
All of the factories we work with are engaged in an improvement process with Fair Wear Foundation. We are convinced that working on a long-term partnership with factories is the key to find sustainable solutions.
100% of our technical products using water repellent treatments are now PFC Free. PFC (perfluorocarbons) are chemicals that are used in technical garments to make them water repellent. PFC are chemicals that are released into the air when making and using a product. They are harmful to the environment and people.
All of our products are made with the intention for you to use them as long as possible. Our after sales service will take care of your products. 100% of products received in after-sales service are processed through repair, recycling or donation to associations.
Responsible practices, from start to finish. Thank you PICTURE!