A large cleaning device which was constructed by Dutch scientists for the non-profit organization Ocean Cleanup successfully collected and removed plastic from the Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean.
The organization has long been working on making a device that will help tackle the plastic garbage crisis and the result is this device which collects plastic in its fold, similar to a giant arm.
This is a major success, especially if we take into account the serious problems the oceans are facing due to the plastic pollution.
Ocean Cleanup Are Proud & Happy
The company stated in their press release that the device caught and held debris, including big cartons, crates, and fishing gear such as ghost nets which was their primary intention, but also microplastics which can be as small as one millimeter.
The scientists are very satisfied with the collection of microplastics because it’s a type of garbage that tends to fall onto the ocean floor, rather than floating on the surface.
Because of its sinking, the organization focused more on the larger pieces. So, the news of collected microplastics was an additional success and benefit.
What’s the Device Like?
This construction is a U-shaped barrier which drops a net below the surface. It collects faster moving objects as they float into it.
But, fish are able to swim beneath it.
Boyan Slat, CEO of the organization, first presented this concept in a TEDx talk when he was only 18.
Unfortunately, the project was slowed down by failures that happened to the team in the construction processes, but, they’ve learned from their experience and have constructed a great solution.
The Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean is twice the size of Texas and it’s a collection of plastic waste brought together by the currents of the ocean and kept in place by whirlpool of currents.
Learning from their Mistakes
Last year, a flaw in the device’s design prevented the barrier from holding onto the plastic it collected and a 59-foot section disconnected from the device.
Their next attempt led to the discovery that plastic floated onto the top of a cork line that was meant to keep the system stable. But, the team was persistent and determined to solve these obstacles and challenges and have successfully created a functional barrier.
Slat explains that although more work is needed, he will be eternally grateful for the commitment of the whole team to their mission and he’s looking forward to the next phase.
Future Plans of Ocean Cleanup
According to a press release by the organization, they will begin working on their next iteration, System OO2.
This will be a full-scale cleanup device which will be made to endure rough ocean conditions and keep the plastic debris for longer periods of time between collections.
After the plastic is collected, it will be further processed for recycling.