The Great Pacific garbage patch could soon become a thing of the past.
Ocean Cleanup — a social enterprise founded by a 19 year old dutchman — has initiated the final phase of testing a system to clean up one of the five great garbage patches in the world. Located halfway between California and Hawaii, the Great Pacific garbage patch covers approximately 1.6 million square kilometers, making it roughly three times the size of France.
The beta system, titled System 001 is a 600 meter long, three meter deep floating net that should be able to collect up to five tons of ocean plastic every month. In terms of materials, research, development and production it is said to cost an estimated $24.6 million. System 001 reached the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on October 17 after several days of unfavourable weather, and was launched from the coast of San Francisco.
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The project has reached this phase after a long testing process. The main focus of testing is threefold. Firstly, to find out if System 001 can maintain its shape and remain functional if it is being propelled by wind and water currents. Secondly, if it can effectively collect and retain plastic. Thirdly, if it can endure the harsh natural conditions of the ocean. Testing for the latter two conditions has technically only just started, as System 001 can only be properly exposed to the requisite testing conditions once inside the Great Pacific garbage patch. When all the testing is done, OC aims to launch a fleet of 60 similar floating nets.
“During the Pacific Trials, we mainly tested the hydrodynamic behavior of the system. So really, first of all, letting it float freely, meaning that the wind and wind waves could really propel the system forward, as we would expect it to do in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” said Project Manager Henk Van Dalen.
OC’s ultimate goal is to clean up 50 percent of the Garbage Patch in 5 years, with a 90 percent reduction by 2040. It plans to recycle and reuse ocean plastic.
You can also track System 001’s live location by clicking on the link below: https://www.theoceancleanup.com/system001/