A Dutch NGO that develops technology to extract plastic pollution from the oceans, The Ocean Cleanup, is ploughing ahead with the latest stage of its successful garbage collection scheme.
The Ocean Cleanup used its technology to collect rubbish from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest of five accumulation zones of plastic in the world’s oceans.
The Ocean Cleanup consists of a long floater that sits at the surface of the water and skirt that hangs beneath it. The floater provides buoyancy to the entire system, while the skirt prevents debris from escaping underneath and leads it into the retention system, or cod end. A cork line above the skirt prevents overtopping and keeps the skirt afloat.
After a year of testing, the floater successfully captured micro-plastics as small as 1mm – a feat the team was 'pleasantly surprised to achieve'.
The newest iteration will be able to collect plastic debris of all sizes by using the natural forces of the ocean for long periods of time.
Once fully operational the Netherlands-based foundation will return the plastic to land for recycling.
Ocean Cleanup aims to remove half the Garbage Patch in the space of five years.
The Garbage Patch is located halfway between Hawaii and California. It is estimated that 1.15 to 2.41m tons of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. More than half of this plastic is less dense than the water, meaning that it will not sink once it encounters the sea.