by Brenna Timm
Cleanup the Ocean
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an enormous environmental concern. In the Pacific, as well as other parts of the ocean, large masses of plastic are floating around, harming wildlife and ecosystems. Many people are trying to find solutions to clean up the ocean, but also prevent future issues. Here and Now interviewed Eben Schwartz, the marine debris program manager for California Coastal Commission. The interview concerned Schwartz’s thoughts on the condition of the Patch, and recent developments surrounding a young entrepreneur by the name of Boyan Slat. Schwartz is hopeful for clean up projects to go well, but does show his concern for the continuation of the problem, and what we can do to stop it.
In September of 2018, Slat and his company, The Ocean Cleanup, launched System 001. This system is the result of five years of research and testing, launched from San Francisco Bay. The idea is that a long stretch of tubing has a net trailing underneath to catch plastics. Once in position, plastics will collect in the U-shaped area, making it easier to retrieve. The goal is to retrieve the collected trash periodically by boat and bring the plastic in from proper recycling.
The mechanism was successfully launched on September 8, 2018 and is moving towards the Patch as we speak. The trip is over 1,200 nautical miles. There is testing underway to make sure the device maintains its distinctive U-shape. This is taking place only at about 1/3th of the total distance to the Patch. Once these ‘Trails’ are completed, Wilson (the pet name for System 001) will make the final move to the Great Garbage Patch.
Slat’s goal, if Wilson has a successful run, is to start the official Cleanup later this year. By 2020, scaling up to a Global size will be the next step. If your interested in System 001’s progress, check here for updates.