Creating Beautiful Islands From Recycled Plastic Water Bottles To Give Mother Nature A Helping Hand
Floating Islands West LLC , headquartered in Mokelumne Hill, California, is a company that creates beautiful artificial floating wetlands, called BioHaven Floating Islands, from 100% recycled non-toxic PET plastic drinking bottles. The islands are basically floating filters that suck pollutants out of the water, sustain abundant riparian vegetation, and provide habitat for high densities of fishes.
Called biomimicry, they are planted like a wetland or a garden. BioHavens provide many benefits, including habitat restoration, carbon sequestration, and of course Water Cleansing. After the plastic undergoes the recycling & spinning process, it is then turned into a matrix of fibers composed of layers of a durable synthetic mesh. The matrix design resembles a pot-scrub or loofah which is important as it serves as a water filtration system. The matrix has pockets for planting plants and is cut to shape & bonded together with buoyant adhesive foam. Over the matrix is BioMix, a proprietary blend of bedding / potting soil recommended for planting in a BioHaven. It is made up of peat, powdered bark and hydrophilic foam, it is light and won’t cause negative buoyancy issues, and it will wick water up to 7 inches (peat will go to 5”). This allows the plants on a BioHaven to grow down through the bottom to obtain all their water from below. (Additional benefits are: it is weed-free, it will not fall through the matrix).
Biohaven floating island technology, though new, is already being successfully applied in several other conservation contexts, including enhancing fish habitat. In reservoirs, the floating islands can be used to simulate natural floating islands that was once common place before the proliferation of industrial development.
A major study in New Zealand has shown that BioHavens can remove 70-85% of total copper in 14 days and 30-45% of zinc in 14 days. Other studies measuring their efficacy in this application are underway in Bozeman, Montana and Toronto, Canada. In addition, they have measured significant uptake of suspended solids from waterways.
BioHavens islands cost about 30 dollars a square foot and can be used as floating walkways, green docks, or piers when built specifically for such purposes and customized to support the specified loads. Since going directly to market in July of 2005, Floating Island International has sold over 3,100 islands which have been launched into the worldwide waters.
Depending upon the client’s need, they can adjust the buoyancy anywhere from a standard (5 ½ lb per cubic foot) all the way up to 61 ½ lbs per cubic foot. Each square foot/layer of surface area yields 49 square feet of internal surface area, referred to as the Biomediation Quotient (BMQ). The greater the BMQ the more the ability of BioHaven to sequester nutrients and clarify the waterway.
BioHaven Floating Islands “bio-mimic” mother nature’s own natural floating wetlands. When launched, a whole diverse eco-system is created which soon attracts life in all its forms, from microbes to nymphs, to butterflies, to fish, birds…. all the way up the food chain. They can be custom created to virtually any size and shape, the largest of their islands (44,000 square feet) was launched in early 2010.
Much more than pretty, these floating, plant-growing islands are cleaning waterways….