What’s Going On Here?
After years of development, The Ocean Cleanup will begin the process of installing its first plastic capturing device in the Pacific Ocean.
What Does This Mean?
Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, was just 18 years old when he first came up with the invention, a passive system that collects plastic by utilising ocean currents. That is some impressive ‘Blue Ocean Thinking.’ ????
The system works by suspending a large sea anchor in deep, slow-moving water, which is attached to a mile long barrier that sits on the top of the water, with an impermeable screen sitting beneath the surface. The U-shaped barrier moves slower than the plastic (because of the sea anchor) and so the debris is captured by this funnel effect. Simples!
Every 6 – 8 weeks, the plastic is collected from the barrier by a ship and transported back to land to be recycled.
Why Should We Care?
The aim of The Ocean Cleanup is to remove plastic from our oceans, specifically from 5 ocean garbage patches. The largest one being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California, has amassed 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic rubbish.
Whilst the dangers of ocean plastic on marine-life are well known and can be seen visibly, the impact of microplastics is just being realised. By removing the plastic whilst it is still ‘large’ it is prevented from breaking down into dangerous microplastics and entering the marine food chain.
Not all of us can dream up, let alone create, a mile long ocean barrier. But we can help remove plastic waste from our own environments.
Next time you head outside for a walk or to the beach, take a (re-usable) bag with you and fill it with plastic waste you find. You will find some great inspiration from Plastic Patrol (founded by double world record holder Lizzie Carr) and #2minutebeachclean.