MBET Plastic Waste Solution
Solution for Global Plastic Waste
Plastics are often referred to as “the miracle of the 20th century”. If the world does not develop technologies to environmentally dispose of plastics in the next five years, then plastics could be “the catastrophe of the 21st century”.
Plastics were invented over 100 years ago and over the last 50+ years, they have become an essential part of every aspect of American life, and more recently for people across the globe. Plastics are used for everything from keeping food fresh, to combing our hair and brushing our teeth. Plastic is inexpensive and makes many things we buy affordable.
Since its commercial development in the 1950’s, plastic has been a runaway “success”, with global production growing exponentially. Its success is due to a remarkable combination of qualities: low weight, low cost, ease of shipping and mechanical strength. This is ideal for packing, shipping, and consumer products. Plastic is everywhere.
Unfortunately, as the use of plastics has accelerated around the world, environmentally damaging disposal methods have become widespread.
Over the years, these one-time-use products have been deposited in garbage dumps that have now reached capacity levels – and oceans, rivers, and lakes have taken their place.
In 2017 alone, an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic was deposited in the ocean, with an equal amount finding its way into rivers and lakes. This translates to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline along all the world’s oceans, rivers, and lakes. In just the next two or three years this plastic waste is expected to double to 16 million metric tons!
As noted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “The mass of plastic detritus present in the oceans is so enormous that it is called the ‘7th continent.’ By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans.”
Approximately 90% of this plastic waste is associated with only 10 river systems: eight in Asia (Yangtze, Indus, Yellow, Hai He, Ganges, Pearl, Amur, and Mekong) and two in Africa (Nile and Niger). These involved rivers all share two key characteristics: massive populations and poor waste management. With little control over the internal affairs of developing countries, even the most earnest initiatives of the U.S. and other G7 nations for conservation, collecting, recycling, and biodegradable substitutes are largely symbolic, having minimal effect on what has proven to be a gigantic global problem.
The most horrifying news regarding plastics is the fact that only 1% of the total plastic waste volume can be measured! The other 99% is composed of particles so small that it is impossible to even see.
The ocean is estimated to have between 15 and 51 trillion tons of these microscopic and sub-microscopic plastic particles (micro-plastic and nano-plastic) while rivers and lakes have an additional estimated 15 trillion tons!
Much of this micro-plastic is 15 micrometers or smaller (about the size of a red blood cell). Micro-plastic is continually being broken down further into nano-plastic that is so small it can enter all life on Earth, from humans to the tiniest single-celled organisms. Nano-plastics have found their way into the atmosphere and water, entering all of the Earth’s ecosystems on land, the oceans, and freshwater sources where these particles are ingested and inhaled directly. In fact, micro- and nano-plastic particles are now found even within the ice of the Arctic and Antarctic.
Pollutants of all kinds – including pesticides, herbicides, lead, arsenic, mercury, etc. – have an affinity to attach to plastic of all sizes. Thus, as micro- and nano-plastics enter our food chains, they carry along a multitude of deadly chemicals.
From a medical standpoint, the world has only started to realize the potential negative effects presented by micro- and nano-plastics and the poisons they carry. This could undoubtedly create one of the greatest medical catastrophes in history – with the potential scale of the Black Plague.
These plastics-poison particles have an estimated “incubation time” of five to fifteen years for human health and cancer problems to arise. This potential health “time bomb” will, in all probability, involve virtually all organ systems. Once this disastrous process starts, changing its course will be extremely difficult. The world must act NOW!
On May 19, 2019, the Center for International Environmental Law released an important report: “Plastic & Climate – The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet”. This report’s contributors include experts from the greatest marine biology institutes in the world, including Scripps at UCSD. The report states:
”Plastic pollution is not only trashing our oceans and hurting human health, but also accelerating climate change on a global scale. If the expansion of petrochemical and plastics production continues as currently planned, by 2050, plastic will be responsible for a large part of the total ‘carbon budget’ – the amount of CO2 we can emit globally and stay below 1.5˚C of temperature rise (which is the rapid increased level thought to cause massive global plant and animal die-off). In the next 10 years alone, the report found that emissions from the plastics lifecycle could reach 1.34 gigatons per year – equivalent to the emissions from more than 295 500MW coal-fired power plants operating at full capacity.”
“Because plastic does not break down in the environment, it will continue to accumulate in waterways, agricultural soils, rivers, and the ocean for hundreds of years. Nearly every piece of plastic begins as a fossil fuel, and greenhouse gases are emitted at each stage of plastic lifecycle: 1) fossil fuel extraction and transport, 2) plastic refining and manufacture, 3) managing plastic waste, and 4) plastic’s ongoing impact once it reaches our oceans, waterways, and landscape.”
However, despite the alarming impacts of plastic waste, this report and the world’s most sophisticated institutions and scientists continue to promote solutions such as decreasing plastics use, collecting and recycling plastics and encouraging the development of biodegradable substitutes. These are important efforts to build recognition and participation. However, these must only be considered the first steps of a marathon. As has been stated previously, these potential solutions are primarily designed for G7 countries that are actually responsible for only a tiny fraction of the plastics waste problem. This is a relevant quote from the report:
“Avoid buying and using plastic. Get active. Get a cloth shopping bag and a stainless- steel thermos for yourself and your children. Use stainless steel straws, bamboo plates, cups. One can get glass straws as well. It is easy to do and makes you feel that much better about our families’ future. Act. For example, it is easy to avoid that salesperson handing you yet another plastic bag when you have your cloth one in hand. Carrying a stainless steel or glass container for water is also simple and easy.”
Conservation (recycling and collecting), biodegradable substitutes and minimizing plastics use represent noble starting points but are woefully inadequate to address this impending crisis. The notion that conservation is any sort of meaningful solution is dangerous. This attitude may cause a delay in research for truly comprehensive solutions.
Plastics are only one component of global waste. The world’s garbage is burying us. Running out of landfills is one of the primary reasons that so much garbage is being dumped into oceans, rivers, and lakes. These are massive and seemingly impossible problems… the question is: WHAT CAN BE DONE?
MBET believes that massive global problems must be solved by “natural solutions” to be scalable. Often, when “man” intervenes in natural disasters, the problems only get worse. For example, developing a man-made chemical to dissolve or disperse oil from spills has only made problems worse. By breaking down large petroleum compounds into smaller ones, the petroleum is not eliminated from the ecosystem – in reality, these smaller compounds become difficult to measure and have a strong propensity to enter the food chain. This can cause potentially disastrous long-term human health consequences, similar to those of micro- and nano-plastics. Therefore, MBET will include oil in the same MBET natural solution research as plastics.
When MBET approaches massive global problems our scientists ask: what would nature do if it had 100,000 years to solve problems such as plastics, oil or garbage dumps? As has been discussed, plastic is made of oil which, comes from decayed plants and animals. Thus, plastics are composed of hydrocarbons, which make up all food. But, because they have been in existence for only about 100 years, no living organism has yet evolved the ability to digest them. By studying nature’s evolutionary processes, we can determine how it would evolve to digest plastic if given enough time.
For example, deep-sea volcanic vents support ecosystems that extract energy from otherwise toxic gases. Despite the fact that these volcanic vents release sulfates and sulfites, which are poisonous to humans, nature has evolved a system to transform dangerous gases into edible food sources.
Similarly, methane deposits found in certain areas of the ocean floor frequently release the poisonous gas methane. Over many thousands of years, nature has evolved several different species of bacteria to digest the sulfates/sulfites and methane into nutritious food. Brine shrimp, tube worms, marine micro worms, mussels, and other species have survived by integrating these bacteria in their digestive systems. Thus, these bacteria provide food to the brine shrimp, worms and mussels. These, in turn, comprise the lowest rung of the deep-sea food chain. These animals ultimately support animals further up the food chain such as the predatory fish that provide healthy seafood for humans.
It is reasonable to assume that if nature was exposed to the plastics (oil and garbage) problem for tens of thousands of years, it would solve the problem, by evolving bacteria species to consume the hydrocarbons. This would start a vertically integrated food chain which could provide a significant amount of healthy food.
But the earth does not have tens of thousands of years! MBET is focused on speeding up the evolutionary process without DNA manipulation (MBET’s HyperEvolution™). In fact, nature has already begun the process. Bacteria have been discovered in the soil of many dumpsites in the United States that have shown the ability to digest a number of plastics. Now, this process must be scaled up thousands of times and sped up tens of thousands of years. How can this be done?
The solution utilizes two elements of MBET’s Selective Breeding and Hybridization System™. They are MBET’s Computerized Genome Mining and MBET’s large laboratory with thousands of eight square foot trays and hundreds of 1000 cubic foot tanks.
MBET’s computerized genome mining allows the identification and purification of the allele regulating the bacteria’s ability to digest plastic compounds using natural breeding without DNA manipulation (Darwinian Evolution). Each of the thousands of different types of plastic will have its own tray. In this controlled environment, MBET will develop selective bacteria using genome mining to digest the thousands of types of plastics. Our one-of-a-kind laboratory has the potential to duplicate every known variable (pH, temperature, salinity, pollution, etc.) found in any water ecosystem in the world. We can also adjust the exact lighting (wavelength, intensity, duration and time) of each water environment.
MBET expects that it will only take five to seven years from the initial capital infusion to the time of delivering trillions of brine shrimp containing the thousands of specific plastic compound digesting bacteria.
Marine Biology & Environmental Technologies’ Solution for Global Plastic Waste may seem to be one of the greatest philanthropic efforts in history… and it is. But there is a business/economic side to our efforts as well. Each of these thousands of bacteria bred to digest the thousands of types of plastic will be considered a new species/strain, which can be patented. The methods we use to introduce and maintain these patented bacteria into the digestive systems of marine animals (such as brine shrimp, tube worms, krill, mussels, etc.) will also be patented. MBET will monetize the System via contracts with countries around the world to clean and maintain their beaches (and adjacent ocean/sea), rivers, lakes, garbage dumps, etc. while providing healthy seafood and a beautiful environment for tourism. This business has the potential of being among the largest in the world. This exemplifies one of MBET’s core values (see MBET Culture): “Doing good makes good business sense.”
If no philanthropic organization offers financial support, MBET’s scientists will develop this solution with efforts financed solely with revenues generated by MBET’s consumer product lines. Thus, with every purchase of MBET’s products, MBET will continue to help solve some of the world greatest problems: restoration of coral reefs, reforestation of Kelp forests, reversing desert expansion, converting plastic wastes into thriving ecosystems (creating healthy seafood) and – most importantly – reversing global warming. Pending the arrival of further capital (from MBET’s expanding product revenues or a philanthropic foundation), MBET is prepared to scale our computerized genome mining technology and laboratory enlargement and improvements to develop a healthy ecosystem based on the biological conversion of sea-borne plastic. Of course, these efforts can and will be expanded to plastics waste in all ecosystems, oil spills, garbage waste dumps, etc. With these transformative technologies, MBET scientists will eliminate the “Plastics Island” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and replace it with a huge vertically-integrated food chain with the potential to feed millions!