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Great Pacific Garbage Patch Clean Up

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

It's the largest clean up in history, and the great garbage patch clean up operation has hit a milestone and is now preparing to scale up.

Vessels and drag net removing rubbish from the Pacific
Credit: The Ocean Cleanup

It has become emblematic of our throwaway society, a grim testament to the pitfalls of single-use plastic. But this week, efforts to clean up the Great Pacific garbage patch reached a milestone: 100,000kg of plastic removed so far.

Admittedly, it’s just a small dent in the floating rubbish strewn across an area twice the size of Texas. Indeed, the floating mass of rubbish is 1,000 times larger than what has been landed so far. But the Dutch nonprofit behind the project, The Ocean Cleanup, said it was preparing to scale up, and it's heartening to know that this intrepid outfit is on the case.

"Since deployment in August 2021, System 002 (or “Jenny”) has now collected 101,353 kg of plastic over 45 extractions, sweeping an area of ocean of over 3000km2 – comparable to the size of Luxembourg or Rhode Island. Added to the 7,173 kg of plastic captured by our previous prototype systems, The Ocean Cleanup has now collected 108,526 kg of plastic from the GPGP – more than the combined weight of two and a half Boeing 737-800s, or the dry weight of a space shuttle!" says Boyan Slat, its CEO. “We are ready to move on to our new and expanded system, which is expected to capture plastic at a rate potentially 10 times higher."

The Ocean Cleanup uses computer modelling to predict where large concentrations of rubbish will accumulate, and skims it from the sea using giant booms. Along with other enterprise, the nonprofit deploys similar technology at river mouths to stop plastic entering oceans in the first place. And that's the real trick, going forwards.



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