The Ocean Cleanup announced that it will start removing plastic waste from the Pacific Ocean within the next 12 months, two years earlier than planned. Design improvements will cut the cleanup time in half.
The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch organisation developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastic waste, announced on Thursday that it will start cleaning up the huge area of plastic in the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the next 12 month.
The system works by harnessing the power of ocean currents. U-shaped screens channel floating plastic to a central point, where the concentrated plastic can then be extracted and shipped to shore for recycling into durable products.
The group also announced design breakthroughs that are expected to cut the clean-up time in half. Rather than fixing the floating screens to the seabed at great depths, The Ocean Cleanup will apply sea anchors to allow the floating screens to move slower than the plastic. So instead of one massive barrier, the improved, modular clean-up system will consist of a fleet of screens.
The organisers predict that the improved design will enable them to clean up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five year.
Testing of the first system will start off the American west coast at the end of 2017, and plans are to deploy the system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the first half of 2018, two years ahead of schedule.
The Ocean Cleanup’s founder and CEO Boyan Slat demonstrated the new technology and unveiled the first parts of the clean-up system – four 12-metre high anchor components – at Thursday’s press presentation.
In front of a live audience of thousands of its supporters, and a large group of online followers, Slat said:
“At The Ocean Cleanup we are always looking for ways to make the cleanup faster, better and cheaper. Today is another important day in moving in that direction. The cleanup of the world’s oceans is just around the corner.”
Image credit: Erwin Zwart/The Ocean Cleanup