In 2015, a major initiative aiming to rid the oceans of its discarded plastic by 2050 was announced. Fast-forward 3 years and the aptly named ‘The Ocean Cleanup’, is set to begin work within the next 12 months on ridding the world’s largest ocean garbage patch in the Pacific of its rubbish.

The Ocean Cleanup Will Begin Extracting Plastic from the Pacific in 2018

The Ocean Cleanup foundation was initiated by young Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat. Their mission is simple; to develop advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. And the foundation has just announced that full-scale deployment of its system is set to begin, estimating that 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be cleared in 5 years.

Human waste has accumulated in 5 major ocean garbage patches across the planet, the largest of which is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California. If left to circulate, The Ocean Cleanup say the plastic will impact our ecosystems, health and economies.

To combat it, they’ve designed a floating barrier to slowly push the plastic to shore with the ocean currents as its driving force. By suspending a large sea anchor in a deep, slow moving water layer (where the current is weaker), it can slow down the system enough so that the plastic moves faster than the clean-up system, causing the plastic to accumulate against the barrier.

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Due to the screen’s U-shape, the plastic is funnelled towards the centre of the system, where it is then buffered before being extracted and shipped to land. Once on land, the waste plastic will be recycled and turned into sellable products to help fund the project.

The beauty of the design is in its simplicity. It’s just one barrier, one anchor, two lines connecting them and a central collection point. A series of The Ocean Cleanup barriers will be deployed to speed up the process.

Testing of The Ocean Cleanup system has already been completed and it will be deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch at some point over the next couple of months – two years ahead of schedule. Find out more over at The Ocean Cleanup Website.

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Earlier this year, Amsterdam supermarket Ekoplaza became home to the world’s first plastic-free aisle.

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