The World's Largest Ocean Cleanup Has Officially Begun
Connect
To Top

The World’s Largest Ocean Cleanup Has Officially Begun

The Ocean Cleanup designed a $20 million dollar system for the purpose of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by removing the 1.8 trillion pieces of garbage from it.

They have now deployed this system, making ambitious dreams turn into reality. Take a look at this Forbes piece on the plans that Ocean Cleanup has to recycle and reuse this plastic from the ocean.

On Saturday, they deployed the floating boom system from the San Francisco Bay. It will be tested for several weeks before it is put into action. This system was designed by the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that was founded by Boyan Slat, an 18-year-old Dutch inventor in 2013.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

They aim to get rid of all the plastic in the ocean by developing advanced technology capable of doing this.

Half of the Great Pacific Patch is estimated to be cleaned up within the first five years by the floating boom system, helped by dozens of other booms. 150,000 pounds of plastic will be trapped every year by one boom as it goes from California to Hawaii, floating along the currents.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a whirlpool of trash formed by the central North Pacific gyre. The vortex of trash was found in the 1980s halfway between California and Hawaii.

This garbage patch covers about 1.6 million square kilometers, contains about 1.8 trillion pieces of trash and is so large that it can easily be seen from space by satellites.

A circulating ocean current, known as a gyre collects and traps the trash. The gyre prevents the plastic from spreading around the ocean, making it easier to create a system for collecting the trash.

Using Local Currents

After undergoing testing, the floating boom system will be towed 1,400 miles out around mid-October to the garbage patch to begin collecting the trash. The local current will guide the movement of the floating boom, causing it to collect the trash in the U shaped formation in which it is moving.

The boom has 10 feet of netting below it so that it can collect smaller fragments of trash. Once it is full, a vessel will be sent to the boom to collect the trash, transporting it to land so that it can be sorted and recycled.

It is designed such that fish can swim below the 10 feet of netting, aiming to collect trash instead of fish. But this is something that remains to be seen in the open ocean.

The plans of this organization are ambitious and although their technology has not been tested out in the open ocean, they have come the closest to finding a solution to the problem of this garbage patch.

There is no other company that has been able to create a deployable system that can clean this garbage patch up quite on this scale.

Quite a few heavy hitters in the technology industry such as Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce.com, and Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal back this organization.

In order to refine the system and make it more efficient and reduce the amount of disruption it causes in the ocean’s ecosystems, they will continue to test and deploy additional boom systems.

More in Innovation