Ocean Cleanup successfully captures plastic

System 001/B has proven itself in the Pacific Ocean. Powered by ocean currents and the wind, the Ocean Cleanup system captures plastic debris floating in the water. A larger system will now be developed.

Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to rid the world’s oceans of plastic waste. The Dutch non-profit organization has been working on a system to passively capture and collect plastic debris. The system consists of a long floater that sits at the surface of the water and a skirt that hangs beneath it. The floater provides buoyancy to the entire system, while the skirt prevents the plastic debris from escaping underneath.

The goal is to capture 12 million kilograms of plastic waste per year – enough to clean up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years – and return it to land for recycling and reuse.

After conducting tests in the North Sea, the first ocean cleanup system was launched into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2018 and 2019. Its latest prototype system – System 001/B – has been in use since June — with success. According to an Ocean Cleanup press release, the system has been capturing plastics of all sizes, from microplastics as small as 1 millimetre to ghost nets from commercial fishing.

“After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage, which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights,” said Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of Ocean Cleanup.

The team of 90 engineers and researchers will now begin to design a full-scale cleanup system that can endure and retain the collected plastic for long periods of time.

Image credit: The Ocean Cleanup

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