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Ocean Cleanup Collects First Plastic From Great Pacific Garbage Patch

In a first, the conservationists have managed to collect trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for the sake of recycling. After a year of testing, The Ocean Cleanup organization announced last week that its System 001/B vessel is capturing and plastic debris quite successfully.

System 001/B is a self-contained system that relies on the natural forces of the ocean for passively catching and concentrating plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In doing so, it confirms the most important principle that defines the cleanup concept that was presented by Boyan Slat back in October 2012.

The patch is a massive island of trash that is floating between California and Hawaii. It has more than a trillion pieces of debris that have been collected on account of the swirling vortex of current. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is about twice the size of Texas. It was discovered in the 90s, and scientists said that it would take thousands of years before it could be cleaned up. However, Boyan Slat was able to make a name for himself quick enough after presenting a TEDx talk. In this talk, he claimed that he could do it in less than ten years, given that he could have his special machinery built.

His claim led to many skeptical statements; however, Slat dropped out of college in order to execute his plans. Apart from crowdfunding a total of $2.2 million for the idea, he was also able to generate millions of dollars via interested investors. The System 001/B vessel that was launched from Vancouver in June is The Ocean Cleanup’s second attempt at proving that it is a feasible option. Apart from collecting the visible plastic debris, System 001/B was also able to pick up microplastics as small as 1 mm.

Boyan Slat said, ‘After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage, which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights. Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development.’

Once it becomes completely operational, The Ocean Cleanup will be returning plastic to the land for the sake of recycling. The timing of when that phase of the mission is achieved is based upon further testing and design iterations.