The Dutch non-profit organization, The Ocean Cleanup, launched the world’s first ocean cleanup system from the San Francisco Bay on September 8.
The cleanup system, named System 001, is heading to a location 240 nautical miles offshore for a two-week trial before continuing its journey toward the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, 1,200 nautical miles offshore, to start the cleanup.
System 001 is being towed from the San Francisco Bay by the vessel Maersk Launcher, provided to the project by Danish Maersk Group and DeepGreen, its current charter holder.
The system consists of a 600-meter-long U-shaped floating barrier with a three-meter skirt attached below. The system is designed to be propelled by wind and waves, allowing it to passively catch and concentrate plastic debris in front of it. Due to its shape, the debris will be funneled to the center of the system. Moving slightly faster than the plastic, the system will act like a giant Pac-Man, skimming the surface of the ocean.
The system will be deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world’s largest accumulation zone of ocean plastics. Situated halfway between Hawaii and California, the patch contains 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, and covers an area twice the size of Texas.
The Ocean Cleanup said that it the first plastic could be collected and returned to land within 6 months after deployment. This will mark the first time that free floating plastic will have been successfully collected at sea. After returning the plastic to land, The Ocean Cleanup plans to recycle the material into products and use the proceeds to help fund the cleanup operations.
Once successful, and if the funding is available, The Ocean Cleanup aims to scale up to a fleet of approximately 60 systems focused on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch over the next two years. The Ocean Cleanup projects that the full fleet can remove half of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years’ time. This is in line with The Ocean Cleanup’s ultimate goal: reducing the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans by at least 90% by 2040.