ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands: A nonprofit organization, the Ocean Cleanup, says its latest trash-collecting system prototype was able to clean up floating plastic in the Pacific Ocean.
The company said the system can capture and hold debris ranging from huge “abandoned fishing gear -ghost nets” to tiny “millimeter small – micro plastics”.
The prototype has been deployed in ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’- which is located between Hawaii and California and is roughly the size of South Africa.
The trash covers around 1.6 million km² according to an extensive aerial and oceanic survey conducted by the company.
The Pacific patch contains 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic accounting for at least 250 pieces for every human being.
“Today, I am very proud to share with you that we are now catching plastics,” said Boyan Slat, Ocean Cleanup founder and Chief Executive Officer, at a news conference.
“Basically, we designed an artificial coastline as a method of taking the plastics out of the water,” added Slat.
“Ninety-two percent of the plastics isn’t [aren’t] microplastics but are larger objects… it is kind of a ticking time bomb the sooner we get them out the better,” he said.
This self-contained system uses natural forces of the ocean to catch and concentrate plastics that are later brought to the shore by collection boats for recycling, he explained.
The company plans to clean at least 90% of the waste in the GPGP by 2040.
It is estimated that the world oceans have over 150 million tonnes of plastic; the amount is expected to triple in the next decade.