7 years ago Boyan Slat, an 18 years old from the Netherlands developed The Ocean Cleanup, which was designed for cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This consolidation of garbage is the largest of its size in the North-Central Pacific Ocean and comprises of a size more than that of Texas.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has always been thought of as a garbage-filled island floating in the Pacific. Now while that may be an exaggeration of sorts, it still looks like an island from afar.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has an average concentration of almost 60 kg/km2 which peaks in at quite a few hundred kgs per square kilometer. This was reported by the science and eco-critic journal Nature.
The first plastic has arrived on shore. Next stop: September 2020, when we aim to launch the first product made out of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Learn more: https://t.co/hCVDrzhTQJ pic.twitter.com/DCBiqceucy
— The Ocean Cleanup (@TheOceanCleanup) December 12, 2019
Six years back, the institution developed a U-shaped instrument that collects the garbage in the form of a humongous arm. Initially, there were several snafus, as the instrument gave in, leading to the expulsion of the plastic back to the ocean.
But in October 2019, the group declared that their device had been upgraded with state-of-the-art technology that would capture and retain plastic waste. And they were true to their words- around 60 kgs of waste was hauled back to the Vancouver Harbour.
It is sorted, put out to dry, weighed, and tagged. On board, the ocean plastic is processed and classified before it is ready to go on shore. Make sure to tune in on December 12th to see what we will do with it next. pic.twitter.com/D2gsHYdo4p
— The Ocean Cleanup (@TheOceanCleanup) December 5, 2019
The founder, Slat mentioned that this was quite an achievement wherein the first garbage was back to the shore. And this was absolute garbage, for this had been residing on the surface for decades, if not centuries.
The Ocean Cleanup has decided to put all this garbage through a process of recycling in order to turn them into some products. While it hasn’t been declared what the products would be, Slat is confident that his team would be able to sell it by September this year.
With the haulage of garbage back to the shore, The Ocean Cleanup has forced itself through the first mission- where their plastic-retaining system was successful. Their next phase is to haul up around 50% of the trash by the next 5 years.
The Ocean Cleanup has mentioned that it is impossible to clean up every single bit of trash from our oceans. But, if such instruments were to intercept rivers, a huge amount of floating debris would be retained from mixing in with the ocean. Slat has declared that their calculations prove that they can remove around 50% of the trash in the next 5 years.
The main highlight of this initiative is that it passively collects the waste. This means that the group uses the current of the ocean to pass through the garbage patch. The movement would be synchronized with the movement of the plastic, but slower. It is the very difference in the speed that would make the accumulation of plastic easier.
The parachute anchor which holds on to the system would decrease the speed of the instrument. This will help in the concentration of the plastic in one spot whereby their haulage would be easier.
Slat is very excited about the products that are to be designed by The Ocean Cleanup in the future.