Shoe soles are being used for many purposes except protecting our sensitive feet from the harsh ground. Shoe soles can now track your location , activity , or can have a therapeutically beneficial design by correcting your posture. But what if it could do more not just for you, but for humanity?
Imagine the shoe sole that collects microplastics and rubber while you walk.
How would it work?
It could be made as a normal sole with "soft rubber pockets" which are made of materials that electrostatically bind microplastics and rubber. It could also be designed as a mop, by having millions of small ecologically acceptable fibers that "collect" plastic and rubber particles. It would require the user to dump the collected materials into the plastics container waste and repeat the collection.
It would help to reduce the microplastic around us by collecting it and also to reduce the amount of rubber that is "peeled" of the sole while walking.
Why would you invest in this?
If we find such a material and the concept proves to be beneficial, we could apply the same principle and put a layer of this "collecting material" on the bottom of the ships. That way, except algae and seaweed, people could remove the collected plastics and rubber from their ships' bottoms and help reducing the environmental impact of non-recyclable materials such as plastics and rubber.
I think the use of electrostatic attraction will to attract plastic objects will not work because the electrostatic force will attract everything in the environment. The electrostatic force will attract particles other than rubber so the shoe will end up collecting a heap of any small particle that the wearer steps on.
Such electrostatic charges can increase the risk of explosion from electrostatic discharge in environments with inflammable materials.
I believe the only thing that can be used to gather plastics and other wastes that are not biodegradable is a robot. The reason the proposed form of collection of plastics will not work is that plastics do not have unique physical properties that can allow them to be attracted without attracting other things too.