Durable Plastics that Remove Microplastics
Just a few minutes ago, I walked by the first large BioHaven we ever launched. We call it the 520 because it’s 520 square feet (very imaginative!). I still remember the launch because nearly everything we planted on the island that day in August was edible and perennial and native…at least to North America. The plants took longer to establish, but eventually tied into BioHaven’s recycled plastic matrix and are still there today. It took the 520 about a year to fully naturalize, and today the island still looks splendid.
That launch was fourteen years ago. And it was before we learned about armor, today’s standard in protective coating, that provides long-term UV protection and top-surface rigidity. BioHavens are much easier to walk on than before, when it was more like walking on a waterbed. Now it’s like walking on a plush carpet!
Durability Put to The Test
BioHavens are made of recycled PET, the EPA-approved polyester used in drinking water bottles. The internal structure of this recycled material is superior to most virgin polyester. It doesn’t break down in water like organic materials, such as coconut-fiber or jute. Additionally, it provides a flexible structure that is easy to anchor and absorbs wave energy.
You can sink a BioHaven, but you will have to work at it! And then when you turn back around you may very well find it floating aright again.
One spring, in a river in China, a BioHaven took a direct hit from a massive tree…a deadhead that pulled the island down and under. When the water receded, the tether line was cut and the island sprang back up to the surface. Only the plants were damaged which was an easy fix. This is a really good sign for long-term durability. BioHavens have demonstrated their strength through hurricanes and typhoons in the southern hemisphere, a tornado here in Montana, and powerful ice storms in southeast Alaska. Imagine a 48-inch snow dump! And all of these events were before the days of armor.
Wait…Doesn’t Plastic Kill Fish??
Initially, it sounds like these large, plastic islands would end up contributing to plastic debris like so many other human contrivances? Actually quite the opposite is true. We’ve found that BioHavens can even pull harmful plastics out of waters.
Today there’s front line research showing how microbeads of plastic – a different animal entirely from the PET used in BioHavens – actually bond onto the sticky biofilm that grows on and within BioHavens. One day, hopefully soon, BioHaven StreamBeds will be positioned at the tail end of wastewater treatment facilities where they will suck the microplastics out of the treatment train and trap them in biofilm. We think that’s much better than letting them pour out of the facility into streams and rivers and into the gullets of fish as they do now. BioHavens will be a vital cog in the effort to clean up water.