On October 2nd, 2019, The Ocean Cleanup announced that System 001/B, which had run into technical difficulties in previous months, has begun successfully removing plastic pollution from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Ocean Cleanup was first proposed by a teen named Boyan Slat in 2012.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was first discovered in 1988 and is a major environmental concern. The patch is a collection of debris, much of it plastic, bounded by the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. A gyre is formed when four currents rotate clockwise around an area. The NPSG is roughly 7.7 million square miles in size.
Garbage patches form in gyres around the world, as the swirling motion of the currents draws debris into a stable center where it becomes trapped.
System 001/B was launched from Vancouver, British Columbia last June to begin collecting plastic pollution in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The system is able to collect larger pieces of plastic as well as microplastics as small as 1mm.
“After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage, which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights,” said Boyan Slat.
“Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development.”