In early October 2019 the Dutch non-profit organization The Ocean Cleanup announced the successful use of the device, the ability to collect, hold and move a huge amount of plastic waste that pollute the ocean.
Today, plastics are somehow used in almost all sectors of human life: from the production of clothing and medical devices to the automotive industry. In 2017, the total number of plastic produced in the world has reached nearly 350 million tonnes. In total approximate amount of plastic waste caught up in landfills, the figures reached 6.4 billion tons.
Most concentration of plastic waste in the oceans is in the Great Pacific garbage patch is located in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Northern California. The pollution area is 1.6 million square kilometers, which in size can be compared with the area of Alaska.
Let’s get back to discussing the device from The Ocean Cleanup. Extensive purification system allows not only to collect large layers of plastic trash, but also different microplastics, causing great harm to at least the inhabitants of the ocean.
The device itself is a barrier floating on the surface of the sea with a screen located under it 3 meters deep. Thanks to the various sensors and geolocation system, the device reports its location via satellite to the ship-parents who will pick up the collected debris every few months. Further garbage will be transported for recycling.
Throughout October, the device successfully completed its tasks, which Boyan Slat, the founder and head of The Ocean Cleanup, wrote on his Twitter, adding a photo with the collected from ocean wastes.
However, it is worth noting that this is the first success in recent years. In 2013, Boyan Slat proposed project, under which was supposed to build 24 interconnected devices and secure them on the seabed, which in theory would help clear the Great Pacific garbage patch in 5 years.
The project, called Slat, quickly found support and sponsors. In just two years, more than $2 million was raised, a team of volunteers was created to assist in upcoming studies. Already in June 2014 Slat presented to the public the first version of the future construction, which would be fastened on the ocean floor, and let the rotating flow cycle created to push the plastic waste in the barrier.
However, the prototype was harshly criticized for justifiable reasons: the design did not look stable enough, and the garbage circulation depended on sea currents. However, despite criticism, The Ocean Cleanup was violated to implement the prototype, however, the Atlantic Ocean served as a testing ground in 2016.
In August 2016 The Ocean Cleanup recognized the failure of the prototype after two months of testing, however, the group continued to work on the project. For 3 years the project has suffered a lot of changes, changed the composition of the team, but by June 2019 was prepared new prototype device, which began testing already at Great Pacific garbage patch.
By October, the device, called System 001 / B, was finalized and allowed to implement its plans.
Now, The Ocean Cleanup team plans to increase the number of such devices, while improving and increasing the size of already created models. So far, we only have to monitor the effectiveness of the project.