Massive boom hopes to corral Pacific Ocean’s plastic trash

Olive Hawkins
September 12, 2018

Years later, Slat and the team at The Ocean Cleanup are launching their first cleanup system out of San Francisco.

The 2,000-foot (600-meter) long floating boom will be towed Saturday from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - an island of trash twice the size of Texas. He added that on September 15 about 1 million volunteers around the world will collect trash from beaches and waterways as part of the Ocean Conservancy's annual International Coastal Cleanup.

Engineers have set to sea to deploy a rubbish-collection device to corral plastic litter floating between California and Hawaii in an attempt to clean up the world's largest rubbish patch in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.

The tube, which began its journey at the weekend, is expected to take a few weeks to cross the 1,000 nautical miles to its destination, where an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic have collected and are threatening marine life. According to the company's models, a system with 100 kilometers in barriers can clean up half of the plastic now in the oceans within 10 years.

After four years of research and adjustments to the groundbreaking system, the design now entails a 600-meter-long floater that sits at the surface of the water and a tapered 3-meter-deep skirt attached below. The waste there weights a total of around 80 million kilograms and covers an area three times the size of France.

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The Ocean Cleanup anticipates that the first plastic will be collected and returned to land within 6 months after deployment. If it works as designed, it should form a U-shape that collects plastic as it drifts around and would be periodically cleaned by support vessels. And then there's the question of whether it is possible to clean half of the garbage patch in just five years.

Most of the plastic pollution experts have shown concerns that the system to be used stems from not really understanding the problem and will, in turn, divert attention from solutions that might actually work. "On the other hand I feel stress, because now we have to prove that it really works", he said to NOS. "For 60 years, mankind has been putting plastic into the oceans; from that day onwards, we're taking it back out again".

System 001, as the first deployable model of the connected floating trash receptacles is dubbed, made its way out of the San Francisco Harbor towards the Great Pacific Garbage Patch under the watchful eye of hundreds of supporters, press, scientist and policymakers, where it will start to tackle one of the largest accumulations of marine litter on earth.

The 600-metre-long floating boom was being towed from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - an island of rubbish nearly the size of Queensland.

Slat hopes that his innovative, yet disarmingly simple, system will have cleansed oceans of 90% of their plastic by 2040.

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