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First-Ever Ocean Plastic Cleaner Will Tackle Great Pacific Garbage Patch

A non-profit organization called The Ocean Cleanup has embarked on the ambitious mission to clean up the debris in one of the largest garbage patches in the world’s oceans. Founded by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat at the very young age of 18, The Ocean Cleanup organization has become the world’s first best defense against the growing environmental problem happening in our planet’s oceans.  

According to a Scientific Reports article (volume 8, Article number: 4666) titled Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic, a team of 16 contributing scientists surveyed the amount of plastic currently floating around in our oceans. The article’s findings concluded: “Plastics were by far the most dominant type of marine litter found, representing more than 99.9% of the 1,136,145 pieces and 668 kg of floating debris collected by our trawls.”

On their website, The Ocean Cleanup describes the area they are tackling by saying, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world and is located between Hawaii and California. Scientists of The Ocean Cleanup Foundation have conducted the most extensive analysis ever of this area.”

Some of the data included on The Ocean Cleanup’s official Instagram account (@theoceancleanup) shows the enormous size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which many are comparing to the size of Texas.

On their website, The Ocean Cleanup describes their mission by saying, “Utilizing the ocean currents to our advantage, our passive drifting systems are estimated to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years’ time.”

According to The Ocean Cleanup, a whopping 46% of the mass is made up of discarded fishing gear. No doubt the fishing industry has some standards to reconsider.

The Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious project involves an enormous device called a “floater” which according to the website is made out of a “hard-walled pipe made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), an extremely durable and recyclable material.” The intention of this Floater is to “catch and concentrate plastic, while also providing buoyancy to the whole system. The pipe is flexible enough to follow the waves and rigid enough to maintain its open U-shape. The floater will be around 1-2 km in length.”  

A large screen is held underneath the floater to allow the currents to flow freely underneath it while allowing the garbage to collect above the surface.

The Floater will be carried out to sea by a large ship seen in this graphic representation provided by The Ocean Cleanup’s YouTube channel. The video describes the process of going out to collect the garbage.

Further, into the video, we see a large anchor that allows the net underneath the floater to remain stable while collecting the debris found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

What the team behind The Ocean Cleanup organization are hoping to accomplish is to improve our ecosystem, help relieve marine life from the garbage that is collecting in their habitat, and ultimately help remove the plastics that are slowly but surely creating a more toxic ocean.

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