Can you solve the plastics problem? New prize invites ideas

Plastic is everywhere. It pools in the farthest reaches of the ocean and collects on the slopes of the highest mountains; researchers have found it in whales’ bellies and in the groundwater reserves we tap for drinking. Every day, about one megaton more is produced, enough to make almost 22 trillion water bottles—and more than 90 percent of that will never see the inside of a recycling plant.

So what should we do about it? How can we keep that plastic from drowning the planet?

Solutions to a problem as “big and knotty” as this one are going to require all hands on deck, says Valerie Craig, deputy to the chief scientist at the National Geographic Society. Good ideas could come from anyone, anywhere. So to tap the entire world’s creativity and expertise, the National Geographic Society and Sky Ocean Ventures have put together the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge to source ideas from around the world about how to address plastic waste.

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