We're currently locked in a death struggle against our own plastic usage. The oceans are awash with the stuff - it's slowly breaking down into miniscule pieces and getting into our food chain, not to mention washing ashore on the beaches of the world.
Something has to be done, and this group of students reckon they've landed a major blow back in our favour.
It's called the Hoola One, and it is already being put to work on the beaches of US island state Hawaii.
The machine itself. Credit: Jean-Felix Tremblay
This all started as a school project for 12 people from the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec. They became inspired after hearing about Hawaii's Kamilo Beach, which had attracted the unwelcome nickname 'Trash Beach'.
In fact, it had also been described as 'one of the dirtiest places on earth'.
The problem is, the beach gets tonnes of plastic and other crap deposited onto it from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge area of ocean that is just swirling with waste and trash.
Ninety percent of the crap that washes ashore at Kamilo is plastic. It was suffocating the beach, contaminating the wildlife, and generally knackering up the whole place.
Something has to be done. Credit: PA
So, Hoola One's founder Sam Duval decided to tackle the problem head on. He and his fellow students designed a vacuum that deposits sand and plastics into a tank of water. In that tank, the plastic floats to the surface, while the sand sinks.
That means you can put the sand back once it is fully plastic free.
Duval told Hawaii Public Radio: "We did some research and we realised there was no machine around the world to do this kind of job.
"So we told each other, we will invent it, and we did it."
The Hoola One team. Credit: Hoola One
Aside from the water, it works pretty much as every other vacuum cleaner does. The only difference is that this one is geared up to take on carcinogenic microplastics.
It's taken them a while, and it has not been plain sailing, but now they're using the machine - which can get through three gallons of sand per minute - on Hawaiian beaches with a degree of success.
There's a long way to go, but at least they're pulling in the right direction. One beach at a time, we've got no option other than to try to reverse the damage.
Featured Image Credit: Hoola One