Updated: Oct 31, 2018
September 8th, 2018 is a historic day in the battle with millions of tons plastic garbage polluting our world's oceans. The Ocean Cleanup launches the world's first ocean clean up system that will be collecting plastics in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. All collected plastic will be recycled into new products.
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time, impacting sea life, carrying toxic pollutants into our food chain and costing the world's economies billions of dollars.
The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organization that develops advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. It was founded in 2013 by a 24-year old Dutch inventor and interpreter, Boyan Slat. He witnessed plastic pollution first hand while diving in Greece in 2011 and decided to devote a high school project to solving difficulties in oceans plastic pollution cleanup.
After multiple research expeditions, series of prototypes and hundreds of tests, The Ocean Cleanup launches its first full-scale cleanup system. System 001 is designed to be propelled by wind and waves, allowing it to passively catch and concentrate plastic debris in front of it. Due to its shape, the debris are funnelled to the center of the system. The system uses the natural ocean currents to collect and concentrate plastic.
Boyan Slat has several concerns regarding the System 001 functioning. One of them is the ability of the design to withstand harsh weather conditions and constant wear and tear. Since the technology is first of its kind, he believes the best way to move forward is to test often and fast and make improvements based on these tests.
The system was deployed on September 8th, 2018 in the world’s largest accumulation zone of ocean plastics, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California. The goal is to clean up the accumulated plastic and prevent it from breaking down into even more harmful microplastic over time.
While the main objective of System 001 is to prove the technology and start the cleanup, a secondary goal is to collect performance data to improve the design for future deployments. The system is equipped with solar-powered and satellite-connected sensors, cameras and navigation lights to communicate the position of System 001 to passing marine traffic, and enable extensive monitoring of the system and the environment.
“Today’s launch is an important milestone, but the real celebration will come once the first plastic returns to shore. For 60 years, mankind has been putting plastic into the oceans; from that day onwards, we’re taking it back out again.” - Boyan Slat
Boyan Slat: How we will rid the oceans of plastic (May 2017)
Watch Live Recording of The Ocean Cleanup System 001 Launch (September 8th, 2018):
The TED Talk that started it all.
How the oceans can clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelft
Based on the article The World's First Ocean Cleanup System Launched From San Francisco