January 18, 2009

Plastic raft to sail to huge sea dump

A British millionaire says he plans to set sail in a plastic raft to alert the world to a huge floating garbage dump drifting between Hawaii and California.

David de Rothschild, 30, of the noted banking family, plans to set sail from San Francisco in April aboard a 60-foot raft of empty plastic water bottles, The Sunday Times of London reported.

His destination is a becalmed region known as the north Pacific gyre where plastic waste covers an area five times the size of Britain. The world's sea currents have pushed the plastic to the gyre, where the plastic mass slowly swirls and is growing larger.

Rothschild, an ecologist, is naming his vessel the Plastiki in homage to Kon-Tiki, the wood-and-hemp raft sailed by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl to show that people from South America could have settled in Polynesia.

Rothschild estimates the north Pacific gyre contains at least 30 tons of discarded plastic that is not biodegradable.