One Dutchman's campaign to clean up "plastic soup"

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

A Dutchman has launched a campaign to clean up the planet's "plastic soup". The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it's officially known, contains high concentrations of plastic, chemical sludge and other debris. No one knows how big the patch is, with estimates ranging from 700,000 square kilometres to 15,000,000 square kilometres. Other reports suggest that it's twice the size of the continental United States.


Dutch photographer Peter Smith wants to help stop this plastic soup from spreading by picking up litter on the streets. He argues that if the waste stays on the streets, it will eventually wind up in ditches, and then flow into rivers and the oceans. Smith uses unconvential tools for his campaign: a bike and a pincer.

He plans to use the plastic litter he's collected to make a globe, five metres in diametre, which he wants to place on the banks of the River IJ near Amsterdam. The globe will include blue plastic bottles, symbolising the oceans, green bottles for the continents, and white French fry containers will represent the North and South Poles.