Green Technologies Reverse Damage to the Environment

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TWH – A story published earlier this month by Reuters reported that Belgian engineers have designed a giant “vacuum cleaner,” dubbed the “Nul-o-Plastic.”

The device will remove tiny plastic pellets from the ground, that are too small for humans to be able to manage, but can be ingested by animals and cause harm. The Nul-o-Plastic vacuum reflects a green technological approach to reversing environmental damage.

These technological approaches may appear as less than ideal to some Pagans. Still, they have the ability to remove large amounts of pollutants from land, sea, and sky.

Green technology works on the material plane. In contrast, Pagans use ritual and spell work to affect change on multiple planes. TWH spoke with biochemist and animist, Dr. Felicity Grove. She discussed ways for Pagans to approach planning such a ritual. She focused on reversing damage from plastic pollution.

Grove said, “like a lot of magic, [ritual is] about transformation of self. What do I need to do to understand the effect I have on waste plastic? What is my contribution to the greater community’s efforts regarding plastic waste? What can I do to learn more about my role in those institutions that have our mandate to care for what happens to plastic waste?”

She suggested that Pagans think about those institutions like a series of concentric circles. Those circles begin with the “me,” and radiate outward in ever greater extensions of the self.

Green technology and businesses

Some businesses have begun to see environmental cleanup as a business opportunity. Emagazine.com defines green technology as “any technology intended to reduce the impact of humans on the environment.”

Green technology has three components. It minimizes the use of resources, utilizes renewables, and reverses damage to the environment. The latter includes soil remediation, carbon sequestration, and pollutant removal.

Green technology and the businesses that create it have found a place on the progressive agenda in the U.S.

On February 7, 2019. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and 66 other members of Congress introduced H.R. 109, also known as “The Green New Deal.” H.R. 109 represents an ambitious program to use the environmental crises to rebuild the US economy along green lines.

The bill describes businesses as potential partners, recipients of investments, and deserving of protection from unfair competition, foreign or domestic. It also would require that businesses be accountable to the public for any public assistance that they had received.

Galgeschoor Reserve

In late October, the Nul-o-Plastic will undergo testing at the Galgeschoor reserve near the Port of Antwerp to judge its efficiency. If everything works according to plan, it should pull 7.5 tons of plastic pellets out of the reserve with minimal damage to the reserve.

However, in order to remove the 7.5 tons of plastic, 50 tons of other material will also be removed. The plastic pellets will constitute just 15% of the material removed. It is unclear from the information currently available if organic material will be returned to the environment.

Several endangered species of birds rely on the mudflats and salt marshes of the reserve. The Scheldt River has carried waste from industries and towns to this reserve. In 2019, the Port of Antwerp organized the Galgeschoor Plastic Challenge to come up with a process to decontaminate this reserve. The design for the Nul-o-Plastic won that challenge.

Sunset on Schedlt River, Antwerp, Belgium. Image credit: Railex – CC BY 3.0,

Envisan, the environmental division of the dredging company, Jan De Nul Group, designed the Nul-o-Plastic to minimize potential environmental damage to plants and soil.

Green technology at De Lieve

The Jan De Nul Group reported on a different green technology initiative. Northeast of Bruges, they have worked on a soil remediation project to clean up the De Lieve watercourse.

That project has developed mats to separate the contaminated soil of the riverbed from the water above. The mats are designed to filter pollutants out of the groundwater and “break it down naturally.” This green technology uses “plants, micro-organisms, and natural materials, as well as wind and solar power to control residual contamination.”

Mineral oils and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon had contaminated this watercourse. From the 1800s to the late 1900s, a nearby factory spewed forth pollutants. That factory produced tar, asphalt, and roofing materials.

A soil remediation project in Australia

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on another green technology project in Australia. Thiess Services removed the last trace of dioxins from Sydney’s Rhodes Peninsula, which ranked as one of the world’s most polluted among former industrial sites.

The size of the cleanup exceeded all others in the history of Australia. The dioxins originated from a Union Carbide factory, which produced the Vietnam-era chemical herbicide, Agent Orange. Dioxins have been linked to cancers and birth defects.

The green technology used involved storing the toxic soil and placing it in a thermal chamber. Theiss Services then raised the temperature in that chamber to 500 degrees. For some of the more dangerous dioxins, they had to use even higher temperatures.

The New South Wales government announced that people can now swim safely in Homebush Bay. Swimming had been impossible in that bay for decades due to the level of contamination.

The Sydney Sun-Herald reported that government officials had cautioned people to avoid shallow water, however. In shallow water, boats or swimmers could disturb the toxic mud and easily cause them to come into contact with toxins contained in the soil. The mud on the floor of the bay, however, still has high levels of toxicity. Toxic sediment covers it. As a result, the ban on fishing in the bay remains in effect.