Ocean Cleanup begins cleaning the oceans

Dutch non-profit organization The Ocean Cleanup has developed a massive floating barrier designed to remove plastic pollution from the world’s oceans. The system was launched over the weekend from the San Francisco Bay, where it will eventually make its way to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The plastic removal system developed by The Ocean Cleanup consists of a 600-metre-long U-shaped floating barrier with a three-metre skirt. It is designed to be propelled by wind and waves, allowing it to passively catch and concentrate plastic debris. According to The Ocean Cleanup, marine animals can simply swim through the skirt. The plastic pollution captured by the system can then be transported by ship back to land, where it can be recycled into new products.

Called System 001, the innovative technology has now been launched from San Francisco Bay, where it is being towed by ship to a location 240 nautical miles offshore for a two-week trial. Its final destination: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Situated halfway between Hawaii and California, the world’s largest accumulation of ocean plastic is estimated to contain some 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic and cover an area twice the size of Texas.

System 001 is equipped with solar-powered and satellite-connected sensors, cameras and navigation lights to communicate its position to passing marine traffic and enable monitoring of the system and environment in real-time.

If successful, The Ocean Cleanup aims to scale up to a fleet of some 60 cleaning systems over the next two years. The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans by at least 90 per cent by 2040.

Image credit: Erwin Zwart/The Ocean Cleanup

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