By Nick Morrison
Saturday saw the inaugural meeting of Orcadians Going Green . This group only started life in 2017 it has just been granted charity status in Scotland (SCIO). They have come a long way since 2017 , their new charity status enables them to do things they were not previously able to do like holding this meeting for example . They have received support from OIC indeed there were at least three OIC officers present at the meeting .
The first speaker was Jenni Kakkonen, a Marine Biologist with OIC. Her paper was Micro plastics in Scapa flow and the fulmar project . Jenni described how MicroPlus sticks were found in intertidal sediments and that they were entering the food chain and so on up to us humans .
Several sources for micro plastics were described . A surprising one for most folk was our washing machines . The clothes we wear frequently contain plastic fibres and in some cases are entirely made of plastic . It is possible to put a filter on our washing machines , called a Guppy bag . Another source of Micro plastics is the macro plastics that litter our seas and beaches . These are tumbled in the intertidal zone and abraded bits of micro plastic are sloughed off them . In response to a question from the audience it was stated that the British Isles beaches have less on them than previously . Cleaner beaches means less macro plastic as a source of micro plastic .
Jenni went on to describe the fulmar project . This is run in conjunction with Heriot Watt University . A future publication will describe this in detail as well as the safety precautions needed for this project .
After the break it was Daniel Sutherland’s (Robert Gordons) turn. One of his key themes was “precious plastics ” . There are currently 6.3 billion tons of plastic on Earth . If like me you have difficulty in visualising 6.3 billion tons , some clever people at Robert Gordon’s University have worked out that if you spread that 6.3 billion tons over the land mass of the British Isles we would all be neat deep in plastic .
Daniel is an industrial designer , he said the trick is to turn the plastic into something useful and desirable and in one case the game even fashionably desirable . A good tool for investigating this is the environmental risk assessment that has been used in industry for some time . To do an assessment you add up all that CO2 and other pollutants that are produced in the current system , and then add up all the CO2 and other pollutants in the proposed system . Possible examples of multiuse plastics / prolonged use of plastics would be the plastic insulators used in electric stock fencing or possibly rainwater goods and DPC and for the construction industry .
Ample time was allocated for questions from the audience. This was a very professionally organised meeting and I look forward to future meetings
” we are the last generation to be able to do something about global warming and the first generation to feel the effects of it ” Prof Peter Wadhams Cambridge University.