“I think plastic is a bigger problem than fuel will ever be.”
In 2020, Suzuki Marine took a meaningful step in its conservation journey when it began converting its plastic packaging to eco-friendly materials. That same year, Suzuki also took a major leap, becoming the first outboard manufacturer to design a device for its engines that filters microplastics from the ocean.
“It originally started off as a collection bag, and then it went to a filter,” says Suzuki Marine executive vice president Gus Blakely. “We wanted to have a product that would operate flawlessly so the customer doesn’t have to worry.”
Suzuki’s microplastic-collecting device fits into one side of a Y pipe. Engine cooling water runs through the filter until it fills with plastic. Water then diverts to the open pipe. The filter costs nothing to the consumer and can be emptied easily.
Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris in the oceans and Great Lakes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many plastics break into particles over time, but others—called microbeads—are deliberately made tiny. In 2015, the United States banned the use of microbeads, which are blended into many health and beauty products.
Plastics and microplastics, which measure smaller than 5 mm in length (the size of a sesame seed), comprise most of the 994,000-square-mile Great Pacific Garbage Patch, according to The Ocean Cleanup.
“I think plastic is a bigger problem than the fuel issue will ever be,” Blakely says. “You could be tested right now, and you’d probably have microplastics in you.
“It’s going to take some life changes on people’s parts. That’s one of the things we look at with the microplastic-collecting device. It might not completely clean the ocean, the rivers and the lakes, but to the person who owns the product, we hope it enlightens them enough to understand and be more thoughtful about plastics use.” —Chris Woodward