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Open Thread #39

Hey, everyone! What do you think about ocean plastics in terms of tractable, impactful, and neglected solutions?

I am a plastics manufacturing engineer with EA on the brain. Here are the assumptions I've found based on my research so far:

We dump lots of plastic into our oceans, it destabilizes economies in some places and also poisons food/water supplies, i.e. high cost to humanity. Consumers are interested in buying products with post-consumer recycled content for a small price difference because they know that it reduces plastic that would otherwise go into the ocean. Brands are interested in creating these products to pique consumer interest. Manufacturers are interested in making these products but are limited by technology in terms of how much recycled content can be added. Our current recycling technology is not as advanced or capable as it could be. Steering technology can be an efficient path for Effective Altruism under some circumstances. If I can work for a business, start a business, or conduct research for an organization that improves recycling technology, I can benefit humanity in a highly leveraged way (i.e. assist in diverting millions or tens of millions of pounds of plastic from the ocean each year).

Question 1: is there anything philosophically or economically wrong with my assumptions? check them please! Question 2: is there something else I can work on that would be better? Question 3: is there a different place I should ask these questions? Question 4: can anyone point me to a contact who is knowledgeable about any of these topics? Question 5: is there anyone else who is working on ocean plastic, especially in a scaleable way?

Thanks for the help.