Ocean Cleanup Has Begun, Aims To Cut Garbage Patch By 90% By 2040

The largest ever clean up of its kind will take place in the Pacific Ocean by way of Alameda, California. 

The largest ever clean up of its kind will take place in the Pacific Ocean by way of Alameda, California.

The Ocean Cleanup, an effort that has spent five years in production, will launch a 600 meter (2,000-foot) floating object that is capable of collecting up to five tonnes of floating garbage per month.

The launch date was on September 8th and the floaty is heading towards the great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world and is located between Hawaii and California.

great pacific garbage patch
The great pacific garbage patch.


The Ocean Cleanup will monitor the performance of the initial floaty, known as ‘System 001’, and aim to have an improved fleet of 60 more units combing the ocean for plastic in half a year. The project’s ultimate goal is to clean up 50% of the patch in five years, with a target of 90% reduction by 2040.

The cleanup couldn’t have started at a better time “We really see the urgency in starting the cleanup because there’s so much harm that could happen with this plastic that’s floating out there.” says the Chief Operating Office Lonneke Holierhoek.

The project was impressively founded by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat at the age of 18.

Re-Using Ocean Plastic

Once at full capacity, with a fleet of 60 cleaning devices, The Ocean Cleanup will continue operations leveraging financial help from the plastic its collected. The Ocean Project will aim to recoup funds from producing products with recycled plastics.

This is a novel idea as big brands have already taken to the use of ocean plastic for experimentation such as running shoes made completely from ocean plastic, or the latest Miami Hurricane uniforms built from ocean plastic.


The Ocean Cleanup Technology Explained

The machine, System 001, sits on the surface of the water with a 3 meter (10-foot) deep skirt as you see attached below.

Installation of the first skirt. THE OCEAN CLEANUP

The floating plastic keeps water from rushing over the system, and the skirt stops debris from escaping below. The system will need to be emptied every four to six weeks.

The team tries to simplify the process by breaking it down into an easy to understand analogy,  “We try and explain it sometimes like a leaf blower. Having to pick up these pieces one-by-one would be very time-consuming. But corraling plastic with the cleanup system allows it to be collected more effectively and efficiently. For the future, we think we may need an even bigger size.”

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Jamie Stevens
Jamie is an amateur astronomer and every day space geek.