The Ocean Cleanup announced on its website in December the successful first harvest of captured plastic. Verified as recovered ocean plastic by DNV GL, an international classification society, the trash will be recycled into products that will be sold to help fund continuing ocean cleanup efforts. The first of these products is expected to be rolled out in September 2020, according to the group’s website.
The nonprofit organization’s goal is to reduce 90% of floating ocean plastic by 2040. Its first cleanup system, launched in September 2018, failed and was returned to shore in January 2019.
Engineering teams deployed a redesigned System 001/B to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in June 2019. By October, the group was able to confirm that the upgraded system was capturing and collecting plastic debris, ranging from massive ghost nets to microplastics 1 millimeter in size.
According to the organization, a significant percentage of the plastic that enters the oceans from rivers and other sources drifts into large systems of circulating ocean currents, also known as gyres. Once trapped in a gyre, the plastic slowly breaks down into microplastics, making it increasingly easier to be mistaken for food by sea life.
The group’s ocean cleanup technology moves with the currents – just like the plastic – to catch it. By deploying a fleet of such systems, The Ocean Cleanup has estimated to be able to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years.
Preparations for System 002 are underway according to the group.
For more information, visit theoceancleanup.com.