The “Ocean Cleanup” project has the ambitious goal of freeing the oceans from plastic waste. The huge garbage collector has already been launched and is scheduled to start work on September 8th this year. The device was designed by Boyan Slat and his team from the Netherlands. Slat is just 22 years old, technically skilled and a genius developer.
Many critics rate the “Ocean Cleanup” as unrealistic, but it has also found a lot of supporters. But let’s first take a look at what “The Ocean Cleanup” actually is and how it works. The garbage collector looks like a giant pool noodle. The huge “Pac-Man” system consists of long plastic tubes, curved like a crescent moon, which will float on the surface of the sea. Underneath there is an extension that will catch the plastic waste. Microplastics will not get stuck on it. The rubbish collected by the poor is regularly picked up by a ship, transported back to the coast and then recycled or incinerated.
An anchor, which hangs freely in the water at a depth of 600 meters, helps to slow down the floating body and to force the plastic waste into it by the current. “Ocean Clenaup” should not endanger the life of the fish because they can swim under the tentacles. Some critics share the view that the giant marine vacuum cleaner could damage the ocean. The device could attract marine animals, which turns out to be a serious problem. The successful start-up environmentalist has equipped the “Ocean Cleanup” with electronic modules with cameras, GPS and sensors, with which potential problems can be identified at an early stage.
Only a short part of the tube is currently embedded near the California coast. The test is carried out with tubes that are only 120 meters long. It was announced that the entire length will be one to two kilometers. Until then, the tubes will be gradually lengthened in several stages and monitored continuously. Only when everything goes according to plan will the functional system begin its service. The towing test, in which the tubes are pulled back and forth, is carried out under different weather conditions and sea conditions. The Ocean Cleanup Team now checks how stable the construction is, how it behaves and whether it can withstand the maneuvers.
The goal of the “Ocean Cleanup” project is one of the five largest plastic waste fields in the Pacific, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. Because of the ocean currents, a particularly large amount of plastic waste collects between California and Hawaii. The Pacific garbage vortex contains around 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. By 2020, a total of 60 plants should be operational, which should remove half of the plastic waste accumulated in the ocean within five years. We will soon find out whether “Ocean Cleanup” is effective against water pollution.
* Find out more about the Ocean Cleanup project here