(BIVN) – There could be a new weapon in the effort to remove microplastics from Hawaiʻi Island beaches, if a new machine works as hoped.
Students at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada have invented the Hoola One, a prototype machine to remove small pieces of plastic marine debris from beaches.
Video recorded by the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources shows the machine recently arrived on Hawaiʻi Island, and was already being field tested along the Kaʻū shoreline.
“We all agree on the team that this thing is so sad,” said Alexandre Savard of the Hoola One team, “because it’s a machine that shouldn’t exist, but it needs to exist clean up all the mess that’s already here today.”
“So far, so good,” said Megan Lamson of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, the group that helped raise the funds to bring the machine to Hawai’i, and which continually leads volunteer cleanups long the Kaʻū shoreline. “Hoola One has arrived to the beach. We’re super blessed that it came alongside 9 of the 12 engineering students from Sherbrooke.”
“It’s not working quite as well as they had hoped,” Lamson noted, but “that’s to be expected, a couple little fixes to get the vacuum perfect and then we’re good to go.”
“We hope that once it’s field tested here in Waiohinu, and we removed microplastics at Kamilo,” Lamsen said, “that it can travel to Maui” and other islands to help clean the beaches.
Lamsen says they’ve tried everything to remove the microplastics from the beach sand, from sifting trays to flotation, and she said “this is hands down where we’re throwing all of our eggs in the basket. We really, really hope this works, it’s gonna be a lot more efficient.”
Savard said he became obsessed with the idea of removing microplastics from the shore after watching documentaries on the subject, and then he found out about Kamilo beach, “which was renowned to be one of the most polluted” beach on the planet.
“If we can clean this beach,” Savard said, “we can clean any beach in the world.”
Lamsen said the microplastoc problem is a problem that is created by man. “We can’t point the finger and blame any one country, we can’t point a finger and blame any one industry. We all got into this problem and it’s going to take each and every one of us to get out of it.”