Women’s plastic research group sets sail for Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Women’s plastic research group sets sail for Great Pacific Garbage Patch

EXXpedition North Pacific aims to encourage women’s leadership and to raise awareness of plastic pollution.

June 26, 2018

Britain-based science-mission organizer eXXpedition North Pacific, in collaboration with TOMRA, has set sail from Honolulu on a scientific research mission led by award-winning British skipper and ocean advocate Emily Penn to investigate solutions to the impact of single-use plastic and toxics in the world’s oceans. 

EXXpedition North Pacific is made up of a diverse group of 24 women from Britain, the U.S., Canada, Slovenia, Norway and Honduras. Split over two voyage legs, organizers say travelers will journey more than 3,000 nautical miles for one month through the densest ocean plastic accumulation zone on the planet, the North Pacific Gyre—better known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Organizers say this trip aims to raise awareness of the effect of single-use plastic and toxics in the world’s oceans, to contribute to innovative scientific research to tackle the crisis, to celebrate women in science, and to create a community of female changemakers and global ambassadors to tackle plastic pollution and its environmental and health impacts.

The crew will conduct daily trawls for plastics and pollutants and collect data for a variety of global data sets and scientific research studies along the way. According to trip organizers, this data is used to support scientists in the U.K., Canada, Switzerland and the U.S., including conservation organization Ocean Wise in Canada and the Hawaii Pacific University. Studies range in focus from understanding the impact of plastic pollution on sea turtle environments to microplastics and the impact on our bodies of toxics carried on plastic.

“Bold, exciting and innovative science into ocean plastic and toxics is at the heart of all eXXpedition voyages,” says Mission Leader Emily Penn. “This year, we are seeing a shift in scientific focus. Scientists still want to know how much plastic is out there and where it is, but they also want to know which toxic chemicals are on the surface of it, whether organisms are growing on it and what the impacts might be on wildlife and on us.”

An overview of the scientific plan for the voyage is available here.

EXXpedition, the British community interest company behind North Pacific 2018, specializes in all-women sailing expeditions. This is the 10th eXXpedition voyage and the first in the North Pacific Gyre. It has the endorsement and support of the UN Environment Clean Seas initiative and Ocean Wise. 

Founded in 1972, TOMRA is headquartered in Norway and makes reverse vending machines for collecting, reusing and recycling cans and bottles. With more than 82,000 installations across more than 60 markets, the company says its reverse vending machines capture 35 billion used beverage containers every year—reducing reliance on raw materials and ensuring fewer containers end up in landfills, oceans and streets.

TOMRA Collection Solutions is part of the TOMRA Group, which creates sensor-based solutions for optimal resource productivity.