Marine Microplastic Debris Removal

Why are marine microplastics bad?

The quantity of marine plastic debris on our ocean beaches is increasing.

Poor plastic waste management on land, as well as plastics dumped directly into the ocean through fishery and maritime activities, means that much of this plastic will eventually reach landfall. The global production of plastic has increased from 1.5 million tons in 1950 to 230 million tons in 2009, with an average annual growth of around 9% (PlasticsEurope, 2010). There are hundreds of millions of tons of fragmented plastics free in the North Pacific marine system alone, and this problem is growing.

Microplastic materials are toxic.

Marine plastics contain two types of chemicals: additive-derived chemicals and hydrophobic chemicals which are absorbed from the surrounding seawater (Teuten et al., 2009). Toxic organic contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and nonylphenols have been detected in marine plastics (Mato et al., 2001). When ingested, this material has a devastating effect on marine life of all kinds.

Due to the bioaccumulation of organic micro-pollutants toward the top of the food chain,
we as humans are potentially affected by this issue, too.

Filtering a Plastic Ocean

From North Shore Productions, Filtering A Plastic Ocean profiles ocean activist Marc Ward and his simple invention that removes toxic microplastics from the beach, and therefore the ocean. The film explores the impact these tiny plastics have on marine wildlife and human health, and shows how this groundbreaking technique is making beaches safe for people around the world. Produced and directed by Rory Banyard at North Shore Productions, Inc., in Portland, Oregon. Filtering A Plastic Ocean premiered at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in January 2016.

STF Called to Action

Sea Turtles Forever has been working in the field of marine sea turtle conservation along the Pacific coasts of Costa Rica and Oregon since 2002. During their work saving tens of thousands of sea turtle eggs from poaching, field operators noticed an increase in small pieces of plastic washing up on shore. This increase in pollution prompted the organization to conduct research in partnership with the University of Tokyo and Northwestern University around the effects of microplastic pollution on the surrounding environment and community.

Offering a Solution

In response to the devastating findings of research regarding the toxicity of marine microplastics, Sea Turtles Forever designed an easy-to-use clean-up solution for coastal communities to adopt for their beach remediation efforts. This Microplastic Filtration System uses patented static charged filtration (SCF) technology to remove microplastics as small as 100 micrometers in size (the size of a grain of sand). It is a carbon neutral, manually operated filtration system that is designed to remediate a beach environment to its pristine state. See below for how-to videos.

Bring the Microplastic Filtration System to a beach near you

Volunteers worldwide are using static charge filtration screens to clean up ocean beaches.
Join the Sea Turtles Forever-Blue Wave volunteer team, or order a screen and initiate a clean-up effort in your local area.

Filtration systems are available for purchase.
$189.00 + $40.00 (shipping/storage case)

Blue Wave
Microplastic Response Team

Blue Wave, the STF Microplastic Response Team, is an active and growing group of volunteers dedicated to removing plastics from our ocean beaches. Since 2008, this team has been involved in marine plastic fragment research, filtration system development and testing, and group clean-up events.

More volunteers are needed! Currently, Blue Wave groups are active in Oregon and California. Contact Marc for more information about participating or volunteering in your local area.

Microplastic Filtration Tutorials

During volunteer training in Manzanita, Oregon, Dr. Erik Terdal, of Oklahoma State University, shot three short films of Marc Ward’s instructional lecture. Check out how much microplastic is collected in this tiny area!
Video taken June 18, 2016.

Video 1: Sweeping the Beach for Microplastic

Video 2: Sifting Microplastics from Sand

Video 3: Netted Plastic into Bucket

March for the Ocean

More resources on microplastics

Help educate your local community about microplastics and what we can do to make an impact.

Flyers and rack cards are available for printing and local distribution.

Content prepared by STF volunteers, April 2022.

Reduce, Reuse, Refuse!

Wondering how we can decrease our use of plastics? This flyer lists ideas and is an educational resource available for printing and local distribution.

Content prepared by STF volunteers, April 2022.

Go top
Go top