All aboard! The world’s first ocean plastic cleaner is about to set sail. Destination? Between the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a notoriously dirty region situated between Hawaii and California. Once deployed, it is expected to start the cleanup process by picking up more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic trash deposited there by ocean current action.
Once the waste has been drawn from the water, the debris will be transferred to big ships for transport. After the ships get ashore, the waste material will be recycled. While the system is an intricate one, the launch is expected to be kick-started from the San Francisco Bay within weeks and become operational by July. It is important to note that plans are already underway for continued expansion later on.
A large Dutch non-profit organization is fully behind the project. They go by the name Ocean Cleanup and they intend to install 60 gigantic floating scoops. Each of those scoops is going to stretch a mile from end to end. Ideally, the screens will allow fish to pass underneath them. After every six to eight weeks, boats are expected to collect the waste deposited.
Amazingly, so inspired was Slat that he dropped out of college in order to fully pursue the venture. All this despite receiving countless criticisms from some scientists about the feasibility of his project. He was able to raise $2.2 million through crowdfunding initiatives. Investors were able to complement his efforts by adding a couple of millions more.
Slat believes that the world’s oceans will soon be cleaned up in no time. His assertions emanate from countless hours they’ve spent testing to learn the technology. Over time, he has become confident that the project will succeed. Notably, he has a number of experts at the ready who help him through maneuvering some of the intricate details.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) covers an area larger than the combined area of Spain, Germany, and France. The GPGP spans an incredible 617, 763 square miles. At present, research estimates that more than 79,000 tons of plastic currently resides in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Most of the plastic material is said to comprise “ghost gear” which is essentially nets, ropes, and fishing gear. Given the location of the GPGP region, the most probable source of such plastics are the illegal fishing boats that travel the waters.
On average, such kind of ghost gear is solely responsible for the death of more than 100,000 seals, whales, and dolphins per annum. According to scientists, the plastic strangles, mutilates and drowns most of the sea creatures.
It is important to note that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t the only source of plastics in the ocean. By description, most people refer to it as the eastern Pacific Garbage Patch. This reference alludes to the existence of another floating mass of junk in the ocean. The other source of plastic waste is situated in the western Pacific.
Other buildups of plastic waste are situated in the oceans’ 4 other circular currents, known as gyres. The distribution is as follows, two patches in the Atlantic Ocean and one each in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.