The Ocean Cleanup, the Dutch non-profit that is taking on the Pacific Garbage Patch, has started collecting plastic in its second attempt at the task.
What is “The Ocean Cleanup”?
The Ocean Cleanup is non-government engineering environmental organization based in Netherlands, that develops technology to extract plastic pollution from the oceans. After a couple of years of various tests they deployed their first full scale prototype.
The Ocean Cleanup has announced that, after one year of testing, its latest ocean cleanup prototype system, System 001/B, has started to collect plastic debris from the ocean.
The startup announced in a press release that its System 001/B, a self-contained system, is “using the natural forces of the ocean to passively catch and concentrate plastic, thereby confirming the most important principle behind the cleanup concept that was first presented by its founder and CEO, Boyan Slat, at a TEDx conference in October 2012.”
System 001/B is the Ocean Cleanup’s second attempt at collecting garbage from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The patch is an accumulation of plastic so large, that some are campaigning to have it officially recognized as a CONTINENT!
What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? – Watch this video!
The prototype was launched from Vancouver in June. Not only is System 001/B capturing big pieces of plastic floating in the ocean, but it is also catching fishing nets. Most impressively though, it is being shown to successfully recover microplastics as small as 1mm from the ocean — something the startup’s engineers hadn’t been anticipating.
How does this system works?
System 001/B has been trialling two principle modifications to the Ocean Cleanup system. Firstly, the system was slowed down with a parachute sea anchor. This, according to the Dutch company, has fixed an issue that was stopping faster-moving plastic debris from floating into the system.
Secondly, once the parachute anchor was implemented, “prominent plastic overtopping was observed.” A new cork line was added, which the company says, means that “minimal overtopping is now being observed, thus allowing the system to capture and concentrate [the] plastic.”
As the Ocean Cleanup says, “there is still much work to do.” The company will now use the learning from the prototype System 001/B to begin to design its newest system, called System 002.
This will be “a full scale cleanup system that is able to both endure and retain the collected plastic for long periods of time.”
After further tests and modifications, the company hopes to create a system that can bring the plastic back to shore for recycling.