The Ocean Cleanup’s clean-up mission ready to start

A month ago, the Dutch non-profit organisation The Ocean Cleanup deployed their first clean-up system from the San Francisco Bay. On 17 October, the system reached its destination and is now ready to start on its mission: to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world’s largest accumulation zone of ocean plastics. Thanks to ocean currents, the plastic is pushed together to form an island consisting of 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, covering an area twice the size of Texas.

The system consists of a 600-metre (2000 ft) long U-shaped floating barrier with a three-metre (10 ft) skirt attached below. The system is designed to be propelled by wind and wave, to passively catch and concentrate floating plastic debris, acting like a giant Pac-Man.

The start-up anticipates that the first plastic will be collected and returned to land within six months after deployment. After that, the aim is to recycle the plastic into new consumer products, using the proceeds to fund the clean-up operations.

On the launch day, Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, stated, “Today’s launch is an important milestone, but the real celebration will come once the first plastic returns to shore. For 60 years, mankind has been putting plastic into the oceans; from that day onwards, we’re taking it back out again.”

Aside from collecting plastic, the system also collects performance data to improve the design for future deployments. The system is equipped with solar-powered and satellite-connected sensors, cameras and navigation lights to communicate its location and monitor its performance.

If the system proves successful and if funding is available, The Ocean Cleanup aims to scale up to a fleet of 60 systems, to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five year’s time. Their ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans by at least 90 per cent by 2040.

For more on The Ocean Cleanup, click here.

Photos: The Ocean Cleanup