Pacific Ocean to Receive Plastic Island

An island the size of Hawaii will be constructed out of recycled plastic.

June 30, 2010, 11:59 AM

LONDON, July 1, 2010 -- Move over Hawaii -- there's a new vacation destination forming in the Pacific, and its name is "Recycled Island."

A Netherlands-based architecture company, WHIM, plans to contstruct the island from 97 million pounds of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean, turning it into a fully sustainable island with enough space for half a million inhabitants, according to WHIM's Ramon Knoester.

Although plastic, the island will be green in both appearance and environmental impact. Knoester said he plans to recycle the plastic and construct the island on site, sparing the environment of long shipments across the ocean. The island will also be powered by wave and solar energy, and residents will be able to use seaweed as bio fuel and fertilizer.

Knoester believes its creation will clear a majority of the plastic pollution out of the Pacific Ocean, and it will create new, habitable land as more coastlines are lost to rising sea levels.

The idea is still in the development phase, and the company has not set a target for its completion.

Currently, the WHIM team is working on a prototype of hollow building blocks made from the recycled plastic, out of which the 10,000-square-kilometer island could be constructed. This type of block would use a minimal amount of plastic and allow the island to float easily.

But don't worry -- it won't float away. The designers say the Pacific's circular ocean currents will contain it within a particular geographical area and prevent Recycled Island from becoming lost at sea.

So why would people want to live on a floating plastic island? Its location, of course. Situated in the North Pacific Gyre, between Hawaii and San Francisco, Recycled Island will provide "the convenience of a location where the weather is always nice," Knoester said.

Recycled Island To Be Built from Floating Plasitc

Recycled Island's urban design will resemble a modern Venice, with canals winding around the plastic buildings.

Although Knoester said he wants Recycled Island to be primarily residential, he doesn't doubt the tourist appeal.

"A lot of people will be curious about the island because it's the first plastic island and the biggest floating island," he said.

It's completion, however, is a long way off. The WHIM team is still figuring out the logistics of the plastic collection, given the sheer size of the Pacific Ocean, and they must gather the material in a way that does not harm marine life. The team also faces plastic damaged by the sun and saltwater, which may not be recyclable.

Thus, the immediate goal is a conservative one.

"At the end of 2010, I hope to have the first samples of the building blocks," Knoester said.

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