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A new device has proved cleaning up the ocean is possible as it managed to extract 20,000 pounds of rubbish from the Pacific Garbage Patch.
The aptly named ‘Garbage Patch’ is located between Hawaii and California and is estimated to contain more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic; the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world.
In a bid to help clean the clogged waters, Dutch inventor Boyan Slat founded a nonprofit named The Ocean Cleanup with the goal of removing 90% of floating ocean plastic by 2040. The organisation has created a number of plastic-catching prototypes over the years, though the first attempt in 2018 broke in the water.
While a newer model trialled the following year was more successful, The Ocean Cleanup estimated it would have needed hundreds of them to clean the world’s oceans, Business Insider reports. Its latest model, nicknamed ‘Jenny’, has proved the most successful yet as it was launched into the Pacific Garbage Patch in August and last week faced the test of returning the collected rubbish to shore without breaking.
Once the rubbish was successfully collected, Slat tweeted: ‘Holy mother of god… It all worked!!!’
According to The Ocean Cleanup, the device hauled nearly 20,000 pounds out of the area by catching plastic in its folds, like a giant arm, before funnelling it into a net. Jenny is towed through the water at about 1.5 knots, with rubbish pushed towards the net by the ocean’s current.
The latest version of the clean-up device is U-shaped and more flexible in comparison to the original design, which resembled a long pipe floating through the water. A crew hauls the net out of the water every few weeks or so to empty the rubbish onto one of the vessels that tows it along.
Footage of the net being emptied showed all sorts of trash crashing to the floor of the vessel, alongside which the organisation wrote: ‘October 8th, 2021: the final test extraction of System 002, and the moment we knew that cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is possible.’
Once the plastic is safely back on shore, The Ocean Cleanup team set about making sure it gets recycled. It is currently turning the rubbish collected into pairs of sunglasses, which are sold for $200 dollars and are used to fund the clean-up efforts.
A single device can hold 10,000 to 15,000 kilograms of plastic, so Slat estimated the team would need about 10 Jennys to clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years.
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The Ocean Cleanup/Twitter
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