Sprawling landfills of plastic waste can now be mapped from space thanks to new tool using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence, in what is considered world first.
From burning waste on from a Sri Lanka beach to an Indonesian site seeping into a river, Global Plastic Watch (GPW) can detect sites like small like five by five meters, representing them in interactive global map of plastic in near real-time.
“This is not about naming and disgracing”, but about “empowering governments”. with information to help tackle the problem explained by Fabien Laurier. key architect of GPW.
Freedom, public tool, designed to help prevent plastic from entering the ocean, has been endorsed by the United Nations and already used government of Indonesia, fifth highest contributor to ocean plastics.
“It’s hard to control what you can’t measure” or even detect, Kakuko Nagatani-Yoshida of the United Nations Environment Program told Sky News. She hoped that the governments use “cutting-edge” technology to reduce “Plastic waste scattering, open dumping and incineration of wasted.”
Indonesian minister Ibu Nani Hendiarty said they already used it to track down undocumented or illegal sites.
Every minute of every day equivalent of one truck of plastic trash ends up in the world’s oceans, killing approximately 100,000 marine mammals each year.
Identification of places of plastic waste “completely novel’
Mr Laurier called plastic pollution “one of the greatest ecological crisis of our time”, creating “enormous environmental and human health problems”.
“And when it reaches the ocean it crashes down into nanoplastics and substantially contaminates and contaminates the entire food chain,” he said.
Although a similar process already widely used to track deforestation, plastic patch data is usually based on on models and ratings.
“Identification of waste disposal sites in full satellite imagery novel and something very hard do at all [even] on a small scale”, Caleb Kruse, GPW’s lead data scientist said on video call from Berkeley, California.
Many of identified sites are perfectly managed while others are spewing out waste, team says.
Mr Kruse team taught artificial intelligence to comb satellite images of the European Space Agency for “give-far” features of plastic platforms.
Sharing a screenshot of website in Java, Mr. Cruise chose out road for garbage trucks, entrance and grey-brown textured areas with embankments of spend in vain.
“Huge” scale of some sites
“You see that almost like avalanche of spend it [appears to be] just flows straight into this river,” he said.
To give feeling of “huge” scale of site, he hovered over over a house across the river, min. in comparison with taupe stretch of trash.
Just “housesize” amount of the waste “can be very significant,” he said.
After identification, each location then checked by a trained reviewer and cross-referenced with other datasets for tagging warning signs like proximity to waterways or people or the type of soil favors the flow of plastic in water more probably.
“The madness is that we find sites like all this oversaid Mr. Cruise, flushing up image by image of dumps on his screen.
World Waste Hotspots
Interactive website revealed hundreds of dumps across 26 countrieswhat account for more than 80% of plastic in in world waterways.
Many of these countries will recycle waste that has been exported by others countries, as well as their own. British ships off more how half plastic waste each year. Western countries have their own”problems” with landfills too, he said.
The process underlying GPW goes through review for publication in Science Magazine.
Mr. Cruz clear-eyes o fact the instrument is not a “general and final data set” on plastic waste”, but hopes that governments, NGOs and communities will be able to use it’s like a starting point for learning in on waste hotspots that need fight first.
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